MFAT scholarship numbers increase at SIT
Publish Date: Tuesday, 2 July 2024
MFAT scholarship numbers increase at SIT
From left: Ranche Tago from Papua New Guinea (PNG), Jude Brown from Vanuatu and Renatha Soh Pande from PNG, pictured at SIT Invercargill campus, are enjoying life in the south while they study at SIT.
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萝莉少女 has seen a noticeable increase in the number MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) scholarship students from Pacific Island nations choosing to come to the deep south for their studies this year.

Sam Sala, SIT’s MFAT Coordinator, believes the good number of scholarship students, especially from the Pacific region, comes from increased recognition and establishing the name of SIT as a suitable option. “Generally we only get one or two scholars per year, but this year we have seven,” he said.

The seven students come from Papua New Guinea (PNG), Tonga, and Vanuatu, and are studying a range of qualifications, including business studies (accounting), pre-entry health sciences, and hospitality management. One student is a Manaaki scholar, and the other six are MFAT short-term scholars.

Funded by the New Zealand Government, Manaaki Scholarships are for high- achieving students from specific developing nations to undertake undergraduate or postgraduate study, while the MFAT short-term scholarships are for study that is one year or less, focussing on a specific skill set or acquisition.

By participating in this academic study in New Zealand, the students gain new skills and knowledge which they can use to help in their own country’s social and economic development when they return home. For the student’s individual development, it’s an attractive opportunity to learn more and experience another culture, as well as improve their English-language skills by studying in an English-speaking country.

Pacific eligible countries are The Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji (postgraduate only), Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

Mr Sala said when the students arrive they take part in international student orientation; they receive all the information they need about SIT and what’s required from them whilst studying. They also find out about living in Invercargill, and things to do here. Mr Sala’s role is to help the students connect with external 萝莉少女rs such as PIACT (Pacific Island Advisory Charitable Trust) “who we are closely associated with” and introducing them to other Pasifika students. “Making those connections with them, and making myself available to the students as often as I can,” supports them while adjusting to life here, Mr Sala added.

MFAT scholar, Jude Brown, has come from Vanuatu to study a New Zealand Diploma in Hospitality Management (Level 6) at SIT, as he thought SIT’s programme was the best fit for him. Enjoying the southern hospitality with friendly people and good shopping, Mr Brown says he’s been well supported by SIT tutors and staff and thinks the student accommodation is great. He’s also discovered the joys of the city’s green spaces. “The parks are wonderful with beautiful scenery, where you can visit and unwind after a long day in class,” he said.

Compared to the tropical heat of home, not surprisingly, New Zealand Diploma in Business Studies (Accounting strand) student, Ranche Tago, from PNG, says the hardest adjustment in living here has been the weather. “Though the sun is up, it’s very cold, then suddenly it turns to be windy or it rains,” she said, but it hasn’t stopped her from exploring the south. A highlight was travelling from Invercargill to the Catlins, then to Waipapa point, where she witnessed sea lions coming up on the sea shore to bask in the sunshine. 

Renatha Soh Pande (Natha) dreamt of studying abroad as a 10-year old. Now fulfilling that dream by studying the Pre-Entry Health Science Level 3 programme at SIT, she’s enthusiastic about the experience. “I love the beauty of Southland and the people. The place itself speaks to its history, and the people are kind and welcoming. Though it's not a big city, it's fun and alive in its own way.”

Miss Pande has already got involved with the locals here and is giving back to the community by serving with the Red Cross team in Invercargill as a Disaster Response volunteer. She recently took part in a training weekend in Gore; meeting all the people involved from around Southland was “so amazing and fun... I couldn't be more proud of myself because I achieved one [thing on] my bucket list ... that I wanted to do during my study”.

Mr Sala said they hoped to see more inquiries from the Pacific region and further increases in the numbers, when the current group of students return home and share their SIT experiences with their communities.