The University of Waikato, Wintec, Hamilton City Council and Waikato District Police have teamed up to offer a series of events for international students in the region, to promote community inclusion and wellbeing. The programme of events has been funded by the Ministry of Education as part of its International Student Wellbeing Strategy. Launched in June 2017, the Strategy aims to better support international students so they feel welcome, safe and valued as well as enjoying a high-quality educational experience in New Zealand.
This is the first collaboration of its kind between the four Hamilton organisations. The programme of events will have a strong regional focus and include a Noho Marae, “Chief for a Day” Waikato Chiefs rugby experience, and an International Week, incorporating celebrations at both tertiary campuses and in the Hamilton CBD.
The programme kicks off on 15 March with “Chief for a Day”. Up to 150 students from the University and Wintec will have the opportunity to attend the “Captain’s Run” – the Chief’s last training session before their home game against the South African Blue Bulls - and receive tickets to the fan zone for the game on Friday 16 March. They will be transported to and from the FMG Stadium Waikato, and receive discounted food and merchandise to enhance their experience.
International Services Manager for the University of Waikato, Huy Vu, says “international students have told us they would like a more comprehensive orientation to the region and the services available to them, but as they are already paying a significant amount to study in New Zealand, one of the major barriers is cost.” The funding provided through the Ministry of Education means that students are not required to pay for the activities, ensuring all students have the opportunity to participate.
The programme of events will take place throughout 2018, and not only welcomes international students to the region, but also adds a layer of support, and safety through the four agencies’ collaboration. Wintec’s International Director Jason Matangi says “international students provide social, cultural and economic benefits for the Waikato and will have a lifelong connection to the region. Students and their parents put a lot of faith in our organisations and as hosts we need to ensure they have a great experience when they invest in their education here.” If successful, it is hoped that the programme will continue to grow by bringing in other community groups, and ensure a holistic approach to supporting the needs of International Students in the Waikato community.