New Zealand and Vietnam have launched a new era in bilateral relations which will create opportunities in terms of education, business and work.

New Zealand is popular with Vietnamese students and Vietnam buys around half a billion dollars a year of New Zealand goods and services. Indeed, it is already New Zealand’s fastest-growing export market in South East Asia.

‘This is an ambitious programme aimed at ensuring our relationship continues to go from strength to strength,’ said New Zealand Prime Minister John Keys after a visit to the country.

It includes an agreement to invest over $14 million in new development initiatives in Vietnam, including a food safety project, the expansion of a successful dam safety pilot, and an enhanced scholarship and short term training scheme.

There is also a Strategic Engagement Plan for Education to maximise links in international education, alumni and education policy and two other bilateral cooperation arrangements in healthcare and aviation which will see New Zealand expertise contribute to Vietnamese government institutions.

‘These initiatives will greatly strengthen what is an increasingly important relationship for both our countries. The announcements demonstrate that New Zealand and Vietnam are more connected than we have ever been,’ Keys pointed out.

‘The opportunities our two countries offer each other are immense. Already every year New Zealand contributes to the education of thousands of Vietnamese students, and we buy hundreds of millions of dollars of Vietnamese produce,’ he added.

A new agreement between the University of Waikato and the University of Economics will see collaborative educational opportunities made available for both students and staff, including degree pathways, curriculum sharing and professional learning. The new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is the University of Waikato’s fourth formal partnership agreement with institutions in Vietnam.

Victoria University of Wellington’s new partnership is a joint programme with Ho Chi Minh City University of Education. The arrangement involves the joint delivery of Victoria’s Master of Arts in Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages, to begin in 2016, and will be offered both in New Zealand and Vietnam.

AUT has also signed two MOUs, one with Saigon University focusing on education discipline, as well as a new collaboration with the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in the areas of language and culture, hospitality and tourism, and social policy.

‘Partnerships and internationalisation are two things that are very important to New Zealand as a country, and to our tertiary education system. To prosper both economically and as a 21st century nation we rely on global partnerships and the international exchange of ideas,’ said New Zealand economic development minister Steven Joyce.

‘International education gives students the opportunity to learn the nuances of studying, working and doing business in different countries and with people of different cultures. Students need to be exposed to international thinking and the new ideas that collaborative partnerships and academic exchanges bring to our classrooms. This exposure and experience is vital for our graduates to succeed in the increasingly globalised world we live in,’ he added.