“While Indonesia’s education system is developing at a rapid rate, its government recognises the benefits of leading programmes that will not only give their educators the best chance of winning scholarships, but also a head start when they actually embark on their PhDs,” says Gary Ward, General Manager of Viclink’s Knowledge Services team.
Gary says that although the cohort had already completed Masters qualifications, they needed a different skillset to study for a PhD in Education overseas. “We harnessed the capability that exists within LALS to equip the students with those skills—which included everything from form-filling and writing skills to research methodologies and academic engagement.”
The comprehensive and high-quality programme—which was led by English Language Institute teacher Ha Hoang—represents another new business opportunity secured by Jeff Howe, General Manager of Viclink’s International Development team.
“My role is to identify and develop strategic new offshore business opportunities that connect Victoria University of Wellington's knowledge and expertise with capability and capacity-building projects in developing countries,” explains Jeff. “Once I have the ink on the contract, Knowledge Services step in to facilitate the delivery of the contracted programmes.” He says this can involve working with other partners; on this project, New Zealand’s government agency G2G Know-How, which is focused on helping developing countries to succeed on their own merits.
Gary says the contracts seek to deliver on the University’s strategic focus on distinct areas of academic emphasis impact and student experience. “The development aspect of projects like the Indonesian PhD bridging programme also provides the University’s academics with opportunities to deliver on their commitment to community engagement—and gain valuable experience working as a consultant,” Gary explains.
While feedback from the scholars positively noted how challenging the course had been and how well this had prepared them for their future studies, much of it related to the exceptional pastoral care they received, particularly from Doyet Sevilla (Programme Manager, International Development) and Tara Kennedy (Administrator, Knowledge Services).
Doyet and Tara calmly worked through solutions when the earthquake in Indonesia in late September meant the students’ financial support didn’t arrive in time. “Through creative mechanisms Doyet and Tara went above and beyond the call of duty to minimise the stress for students, newly arrived in a strange country with no money!” says Gary. “They organised food vouchers, took them to the doctors, and essentially made sure they had everything they needed.”
So far, two of the participants have already passed the selection process for a PhD scholarship to study overseas—sponsored by the Indonesian government—and will commence their studies either this year or next. More success stories such as these are expected to follow. Doyet prepared two reports on the outcomes of the programme which were very well-received by the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education (MORTHE) and this is leading to further opportunities in recent discussions Jeff has had with MORTHE in Jakarta.
“As we win and deliver more of these initiatives, we substantially diversify and deepen Viclink's engagement with the University,” says Gary. “We're working with faculties that wouldn't traditionally engage with a tech transfer office, such as health, education, law, commerce and the humanities.
“Without doubt the biggest challenge—and reward—is working across distance and cultures to develop solutions that make a real and lasting difference to our region and its people,” Jeff concludes.