A delegation of 23 local primary and secondary schools travelled to South Korea in September, to showcase the region’s education opportunities for the first time since 2019.
The trip was coordinated by Education Tauranga and Tauranga Korean Times (TKT) agency, who have hosted education fairs together in Korea for 12 years pre-covid. The fairs were held in Seoul and Busan over three days and attracted 400 attendees.
Hyun Taek Yang, director of TKT agency said “Korean families love Tauranga because they can give their children a world-class education in a tight-knit and relatively small community of welcoming people. The fairs are a great opportunity for prospective families to meet Tauranga school representatives in person and find out what it’s like to live and study in New Zealand.“
Korean families generally stay in Tauranga for two or three years and contribute about $20 million per year into the local economy. On average, a single family will spend around $100,000 per year on various costs associated with setting up a home and taking part in tourism activities.
Relationships built between Tauranga schools and the Korean families are long-lasting and have created a strong network that has continued to benefit the region, creating a prosperous environment for international education opportunities.
As the largest New Zealand delegation to visit South Korea since the end of 2019, Education Tauranga organised a special Alumni Event with Education New Zealand, to further cement these historical connections. Hosted by Philip Turner, New Zealand’s Ambassador to South Korea, at the Ambassador’s residence in Seoul, 70 alumni Korean families attend the event, eager to reconnect and relive the positive experiences they had living and studying in Tauranga.
Melissa Gillingham, Education Tauranga’s regional relationship manager said “It was really exciting to travel offshore again to promote the Tauranga region. Korean families contribute so much to our city and our community – socially, culturally, and economically. The trip is a first-hand insight into Korean culture and helps us to better understand and support their integration into life in Tauranga.”
Representatives from the delegation also took this chance to also visit their sister schools in person; Sanui Primary School and Hansin Elementary. The representatives were treated to full school tours and and discussed the next steps in strengthening their relationships, with the potential for restarting international exchanges in the near future.
In addition to the education fairs, this was also an opportunity to reconnect with Tauranga’s ‘friendship city’ in Korea; Ansan. Situated on the outskirts of Seoul, next to the west coast, Ansan is a planned city that grew from a population of 120,000 (roughly the population of the Western Bay) to more than 750,000 within the past 35 years. The friendship city is keen to restart student exchanges with Tauranga youth, providing international opportunities that have been lacking these past years.
The international education delegation has been considered a tremendous success, with TKT reporting that more than 100 Korean students have committed to study in Tauranga, beginning Term 1, 2023 – up more than 20% on the years pre-covid.
“It’s clear there is a pent-up demand from our key international relations and Tauranga is seen as an attractive study destination.” says Gillingham. “We’re excited to reignite these international markets, and look forward to building on this success going into 2023”