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World Trade In Education Services with Emphasis on New Zealand
Mar 22, 2003

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  • Comment Board
  • Given the lack of legal stability in trade in education, this issue is gaining prominence in the current services trade negotiations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Despite concerns that GATS negotiations could undermine the public delivery of education, the need to increase the coverage and improve the quality of education that allows domestic citizens to enjoy an equal footing with foreign workers has led governments to avoid placing artificial barriers on trade in education services. A central issue in the current negotiations is whether governments will give foreign providers nondiscriminatory access to the support and subsidies provided to private and public domestic providers.

    The emergence of migration controls following the war on terrorism has raised concerns in developing countries about the risk of depending too much on foreign education services and strengthened supporters of building a local education infrastructure. Yet, the current multilateral and bilateral negotiations provide a unique opportunity to establish a common set of rules that could provide long-term stability and ensure that students from the developing world enjoy equal access to first-world education. In addition to addressing immigration rules governing the mobility of personnel and students, the negotiations should also make progress in establishing a mechanism for providing quality assurance of educational providers and international recognition of academic qualifications. Addressing these issues will expand the international e-learning market and make available a rich supply of knowledge in developing countries

    It is important to note that the GATS does not prevent governments from continuing to pursue their social objectives through domestic regulation or public supply. Yet, the GATS does encourage governments to give equal footing to domestic and foreign providers. New Zealandís Incursion in International Education Markets

    Although New Zealand is not yet a top provider of education exports, it enjoys the fastest growth rates over the past ten years. The rapid growth has led to an increased focus on trade in education by government officials, which have developed a thorough strategy to attract foreign students with primary focus in neighboring Asian countries.

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