Category Archives: Education New Zealand

Do not study business


In a previous post, I exposed the dangerous minefield called the student visa.

If you are the type of person where money is not an issue and really want to pursue further studies in New Zealand then it would be wise to select the right course that would increase your chances of securing a skilled job.

Recently, I’ve been meeting a lot of pinoys studying diploma of business here that had been sold to them by unscrupulous agents back home.

Many have paid thousands of dollars, worked in odd jobs and ended up packing their bags in debt.

Studying business is a terrible choice if you plan on permanently settling here.

After finishing your studies it is highly unlikely someone will offer you to “manage” their business.

For one, New Zealand is a tiny, isolated country in the Pacific where the average business is 1-5 people, a vast majority of which are solo operators.

Think about this – if you had a business in the Philippines would you hire a foreigner to manage your operations?

No, you would hire someone with local knowledge and that takes years of on-the-ground experience.

Not an expensive piece of paper.

Business courses do not teach a marketable trade or specific skill.

The most successful business people in the world did not study “business”, they just had an idea and learned it as they went along.

Another similar course being peddled is “Healthcare Management” to target the clueless pinoy nurses and other medical professionals.

The reason why these types of courses are being pushed are the low overhead costs of offering these programs. Whereas let’s say you offer a degree like engineering or computer networking, you would need to build the expensive infrastructure to support it.

With “Healthcare Management” or “Business,” all you need is a room, perhaps a whiteboard and a guy off the street pretending to be a “management guru.”

What it ultimately boils down to is that Kiwi employers are not looking to give any “fresh off the boat” immigrant any kind of managerial or leadership position.

Because of its size, taking in a rookie “manager” is a risky position for most New Zealand companies. Aggravating this further are the strict labour laws, making it hard to fire people who they later find unsuitable.

If you are aspiring Kiwi and want to learn a skill that will lead to jobs, the best course of action would be to look at the job sites and talk directly to employers.


The Truth about Student Visas

Due to immigration rules tightening, many Filipinos are now opting to study in New Zealand. In fact, latest official figures showed that the Philippines is leading with a 72% increase of student visa arrivals from the previous year.

It seems that the recent upsurge had been caused by some dodgy agents in the country advertising the student visa as a relatively “easy” pathway or simply by people who jumped on the bandwagon without doing their homework.

Example of a deceptive Filipino consultant advertising their “Study in NZ” services on Facebook

Of course, student visa as an “easy” pathway is very far from the truth. Remember that when you apply for a student visa you sign on a piece of paper that your “statement of purpose” is to study and leave the country when your visa expires.

Immigration NZ nor the NZ government does not promise or guarantee any jobs, more so permanent residency when you decide to go down the student visa path. You are allowed to study, in some cases work part-time, but at the end of the day, the agreement is that you pack your bags once your study is over. This is all written in black and white.

Pero sa hirap ng buhay sa atin, some pinoys do take their chances and hop on a plane to study with a hope of securing work, any work, which in the case of NZ does not apply. This is quite different from the Middle East or Singapore in that if your objective is permanent residency, it has to be skilled work that is in line with your experience and field of study and that New Zealand has a demand for those skills.

In other words, you have to bring something special to the table before they let you in. No Mcdo managers, factory hands, call center agents or kitchen staff because they have plenty of those people already.

They say “no guts, no glory.” And I agree. Despite all the gloom and doom in the global economy nowadays I still think the rewards outweigh the risks in taking such endeavor. But you also need to assess your odds and prepare accordingly to increase your chances of success.

studying in nz

First, the student visa would be the costliest pathway one can take and you need to be financially prepared. Conservatively, you will be spending over 1 million pesos per year in tuition fees and living costs. Remember that no amount of part-time work (limited to 20 hours per week) will be able to sustain yourself in NZ. If you have to borrow this amount of money, it will take years to recoup even if you end up finding a NZ job.

Secondly, you need to choose a field of study that has to be in an area of your specialization already. Case in point – no sense taking a business course when your undergraduate degree is nursing and you are looking for nursing job.

Third and finally, the skills has to be there for you to compete in the present job market. The course that you will study is just an “icing on the cake” that will let you inside the country so you can job hunt. But in the final analysis, the offer will only come if you can truly add value to the company you are applying for. Frankly, how many comes out of college and be able to hit the ground running? Real skills takes several years to develop, and that’s why Kiwi employers value experience over degrees. It is also important to note that less than 15% of Kiwis hold university degrees and this is not necessarily a bad thing. Most of them learned on the job and have worked their way up. Practicality and improvisation is inherent in Kiwi culture and oftentimes classroom “theories” are dismissed. To learn more, read about the term “number 8 wire” and its origins.

Academic achievement is not highly valued here (unlike the UK or US) and that is why I have reservations on recommending the student visa path. But if you have money to burn and game for adventure then taking the plunge is definitely worth it.

What to Study in New Zealand

student_loan_default_debt-300x300 Let’s be honest. Most if not all Filipinos who come to New Zealand to study do so in the hopes of landing a job and eventually securing permanent residence. I hate to rain on their parade, but unless you plan strategically, the chances of this happening is slim to none, not to mention a financially draining exercise of spending more than 1 million pesos. As the old adage goes “those who fail to plan, plan to fail” and I’ve seen too many sob stories of pinoy students who come here and let their entire life savings (or somebody else) go down the drain. So hear me out and don’t be one of those “casualties of war”.

The most crucial step is choosing the course you want to take. For starters, it has to be Bachelor’s level or above. New Zealand Qualifications Authority refers to this as Level 7. When you apply for permanent residency down the road, you will more likely gain the required points if you have a qualification rated Level 7 or above.


Secondly, carefully choose the right area of study that will lead to possible permanent employment. Having said that, take Immigration NZ’s so-called “skill shortage” list with a grain of salt. This list is more in-line with areas where the government project future growth. However, real employer demand does not necessarily jive with this forecast.

Take for example the nominated occupation of “multimedia designer”, which is in the government’s skill shortage list. But searching this job on Seek (NZ’s biggest job site) reveals very few part time, fixed-term roles that will not lead to permanent residency. After living here for quite a while, I learned that the following areas of study would be good choices for international students:

  • Information Technology (networking, programming)
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Culinary Arts
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Health Sciences (Medicine, Dentistry, Radiology)
  • Pharmacy
  • Agricultural and Forestry Science
  • Farming
  • Food Technology
  • Nursing
  • Social Work

Conversely, some of the worst degrees to take would be:

  • Business / Management
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Tourism and Hospitality
  • Graphic Design
  • Communications
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Human Resources
  • Psychology
  • Law
  • Architecture

These are the sort of courses that schools and student agents like to push because they have low overhead costs so there are big profits to be made for enrollment in these areas despite a limited job market waiting for its students. They want your money (you pay 3 times what an average kiwi would pay) but they would not be held accountable if students get jobs or not. The international education market is currently a $2.5 billion industry so you can just imagine the lies being peddled to get people to sign up.

It does not guarantee success but choosing the right degree is half the battle. The other half is looking for a job within that field of expertise that I will discuss in the separate article.