International Education Marketing NZ: An inconvenient truth

Writing about my experience as an international student in New Zealand makes me really sombre, losing my sense of humour.

But I have to do this, being alone in New Zealand, writing is my catharsis. Coz, why bother blogging at all?

Looking at the whole process of international student recruitment. I identified several players, me the client, the education agent, and the international marketing manager.

I’m doing this to understand why?

First of all, it is my fault, of course. Nobody dragged me here, but me. In all honesty, I was the one who pushed my agent to process my application after attending a marketing seminar.

Second, I bought the service because I was attracted to the marketing claims. The green rolling hills with fat cows grazing, the superannuation, the health benefit.


Sky City, Auckland, Pink Lights
Skycity Tower. Auckland.
Who is the Marketing Manager?

The International Marketing Manager or Officer is an authorised representative or employee of the Private Tertiary Establishment (PTE). He is the one who directly links with the education agent to sell his school to clients.

He is an important actor in the entire chain of the recruitment process. He is the one behind the shadow and should not be underrated.


It is easy for the marketing manager to sell his school especially if the PTE has a specialisation for example in culinary, travel and tourism. I noticed however that most PTEs here offers business courses. In my opinion and observation, it is the one-size-fits-all course and very profitable. Why would they open so many sections and hire so many lecturers, if it is not?


Remember, education is business. PTEs also compete with each other. They attract clients by giving commissions, travel opportunity to agents, and, discounts and give-aways, for example, computer laptops to students.

Marketing Strategy

Some Marketing Officers goes back and forth to the Philippines to recruit international students. Sometimes you meet the officer as he speaks in seminars sponsored by your agent with a video and powerpoint which gives a shortcut presentation of the student pathway (detouring the process in between as if it will not happen), and into the glory of  permanent residency.

I was specifically attracted to the superannuation and free or subsidised health care at publicly funded health service. I remember him proudly saying how he got his job even if he is not good in English. And how much more you, he added.

I went home and thought about that. You see, if I work hard to get my residency, my life will be better.

I have the educational qualifications, I have skills and experience, talent, computer savvy, all those things. But I learned later that it’s not enough.

You see, I am a paranoid, socially anxious, intuitive person with my alarm antennae, always up to detect distress signs, but it was down in this circumstance. Me, wants the superannuation. Me, so excited.

I think that this is the very same feeling Filipino international students feel with the idea of coming to New Zealand.


The lesson I learned here is. You are a buyer of  service. As you would in any transaction, you’d rather err on the side of caution. Taking the student pathway is just like buying. The salesman promotes his product with his well-rehearsed salestalk. Don’t believe everything she says. Her job is to sell. Your job as a prospective international student is to assess and weigh all the information from all sides and make a well-informed decision.

deception (2)

You see, I believe in ethical marketing – a business where clients are informed of the pros and cons of the product and service. But of course, that is very ideal. An ethical marketing would have contributed to sharpening our axe before coming here. Yes, it would have.

Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve. I am actually sick of this but this will be my last rant.

I understand that I will be starting again from scratch as a migrant. I was ready for that. I also know that the path I was treading is risky. But I wished that I was also given a realistic account and not sugar-coated success stories because it would have made my journey lighter.

A comforting lie can cost us millions of pesos but an inconvenient truth can save us the heartache that comes along with it.

But then again, I am also a player in the game.


These are my observation of the recruitment process and why international students feel deceive in the end . This is not an advice. Read disclaimer.


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  4. Aiki | 10th May 17

    Hi. This is what we need now since me and my hubby were considering this student visa pathway instead of the skilled visa because we don’t know if we have an edge after completing a degree in NZ or if our PH qualification + overseas work experience would suffice as migrants. Thank you for this realistic points!

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