For MBA applicants looking to study in a native English setting, it’s definitely worth looking outside the most common options like the US, Canada and UK.
On closer inspection, a not-so-obvious choice like New Zealand has a lot to offer the international students who choose to make its shores home while they study.
“New Zealand is a stunningly beautiful country with low population and renowned for its clean green image,” says Ken Lee, MBA director at Auckland University of Technology. “In addition to high quality education opportunities it provides a wide range of outdoor pursuits and activities, and its growing economy provides employment opportunities for good quality graduates.”
This combination of internationally recognized education, Lord of the Rings scenery and mountains and beaches all within easy reach of the cities is enough to compel tens of thousands of international students to set off for New Zealand every year.
Otago University is found in Dunedin, a quaint city with Scottish history set in the nation’s far south.
Director of Executive Programs at Otago University’s Business School Ian Lafferty says Dunedin is “a real university city – well, maybe more of a ‘town’ for some international students – but it’s certainly got a real university feel”.
It’s this community feel, along with Dunedin’s scenic coastline and proximity to mountains for skiing and snowboarding that have helped bring foreign students to the small city in the south.
“We do attract a lot of international students to Otago,” says Lafferty, “but specifically to the MBA. The majority of our students are international students so diversity is one of the biggest aspects of our program, in terms of the student body and also the teaching body.”
This year Otago University’s full-time MBA is a class of 24 students from 12 different countries including Canada, Denmark, the USA, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Lebanon, New Zealand and even one student who identifies as Kurdish.
Job opportunities abound
Lafferty says he has seen more and more international students wanting to stay in New Zealand after they finish their MBA.
“Previously it was that they would come to study and then go home. But now the vast majority of our international students want to stay in New Zealand.”
Thankfully, the opportunity to stay and find work is something the New Zealand immigration authorities support.
“The government here has introduced a one-year job search visa so anybody who completes an MBA gets to stay for an extra year after they graduate to look for a job,” says Lafferty.
“I think New Zealand is quite attractive to international students in that regard.”
And MBA students at Otago are certainly taking up the opportunity.
“I’d say in general 90 percent of our international students want to stay. In fact, in last two or three years, they have all stayed and they have all got jobs, which is good news.”
Lafferty says a few Otago MBA graduates have stayed in Dunedin, working at local firms like Fisher & Paykel, a New Zealand appliances manufacturer.
But most end up in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city where there are more work opportunities.
Auckland is the world’s largest Polynesian city, and is home to a diverse range of cultures, particularly from Asia: soon people with an Asian background will make up 25 percent of Auckland’s population.
It’s the city with the most businesses and jobs and it’s also a comfortable, friendly place for newcomers.
Auckland University of Technology’s AUT Business School is located in the heart of downtown Auckland, offering close proximity to the central business district and job and networking opportunities.
Ken Lee at AUT says the staff on its MBA program are focused on helping students find local jobs.
“International students have a lot of support in the university to enhance their employability and prepare for when they graduate,” says Lee.
“The university recommends students to network, work part time, volunteer and be active in extracurricular activities during their studies, all of which will make the students’ profile more attractive and stand out when they are looking for work opportunities.”
Director of Executive Development Programs at the University of Canterbury’s College of Business and Law David Shearer says that understanding the job opportunities available at graduation is also a focus for students on Canterbury University’s MBA programs.
There, about 40 percent of students on the MBA program are from outside New Zealand.
Earthquake rebuild creates ongoing opportunities
Christchurch’s 2011 earthquake left destruction, but also created plenty of jobs. Today, six years on, the Canterbury region—which is situated on the east coast of the country’s South Island—still has a growth rate of 6.8 percent.
“We’ve got all the professional jobs available and we need more people for them,” says Shearer.
“The recovery, whilst initially was all about engineering and construction, has now filtered down into the other growth sectors and the likes of high-tech manufacturing. So we’re not talking large steel mills here, we’re talking large manufacturers who’ve got 450 staff.”
Many graduates already have technology industry experience, and there are opportunities in the Canterbury region for them to move back into those sectors but in management positions, armed with their new skills.
There are also jobs in professional services consulting companies, including finance, accounting, software and strategy.
Students on both the MBA and EMBA programs undertake business projects, which is an important way for international students to connect with employers.
It’s also a way to encourage more employment of foreign graduates.
“Having [businesses] work with international students is a great way to help change their thinking about where they’re going to source staff,” says Shearer.
- Moeraki Boulders, Otago by Max Pixel CC0 (cropped)
- Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, New Zealand by Antilived CC BY 2.0
- New Zealand map by World Factbook CC0
- Bayswater Marina, Auckland, New Zealand by Bayswater marina CC0
- WF (School of Business) Building at Auckland University of Technology city campus in Auckland, New Zealand by PlanningAUT CC0