To attract South American students (and the unsubsidised fees that come with them), Education New Zealand has arranged for Otago Polytechnic to host a pair of popular Brazilian bloggers for several weeks.
Caio Komatsu and Luana Mazotti, both from Sao Paolo, are the respective founders of the blogs Fail Wars and Puro Veneno, which, according to Education New Zealand, are said to reach a combined audience of approximately five million people.
Over the course of their stay, the avid keyboard tappers will be required to share their experiences in New Zealand with their readership.
And the organisers of the campaign—Education New Zealand, University of Otago’s Language Centre and Otago Polytechnic—believe that this approach will spread Latin American awareness of New Zealand, not only as a tourist destination but also as a great place to study.
“We discovered the bloggers through social media consultancy Conversa, based in Auckland," says Education New Zealand’s senior communications advisor Susie McShane. "Around 2,500 Brazilian students study in New Zealand annually, but there’s plenty of opportunity for expansion. We see social media as a way of extending our reach into Brazil to capture the attention of a digitally savvy youth market looking to learn English and have an adventure."
Given that Brazil’s economy is currently listed as the sixth largest in the world and that every foreign student will be required to pay between $16,900 and $81,900 (postgraduate diploma in clinical dentistry) to study at Otago University, this move could prove profitable for both the educational institutions involved and the tourism industry.
Fortunately for Komatsu and Mazotti, international fees will not be charged to their student accounts during their stay.
“Otago University and Otago Polytechnic are hosting the bloggers, which includes covering course fees and providing accommodation,” says McShane.
While in New Zealand, Komatsu will study ‘Outdoor Adventure Leadership’ at Otago Polytechnic, while Mazotti will study English at the University of Otago Language Centre.
Although this approach is very different from the marketing strategies conventionally employed by educational institutions, McShane points out that it isn’t a novel concept.
“The idea [to bring the pair of bloggers here] came from a successful visit by two other Brazilian social media stars last year: the podcasting duo Jovem Nerd, and prior to that the very first pilot trip by blogger and celebrity, Cid Não Salvo in November 2012,” says McShane.
“[They] travelled around New Zealand – hosted by Education New Zealand and Conversa, in conjunction with Māori Tourism – to see some of our beautiful sights and visit some of our superb English language schools and private training establishments.”
McShane adds that the attention generated by the Jovem Nerds’ videos serves as impetus for Education New Zealand to use social media channels to spread awareness.
“The Jovem Nerds' videos of their “NerdTour NZ” received more than a million views on YouTube, and the schools and institutions the Nerds visited reported a significant increase in traffic and enquires from Brazilian students.”
And McShane believes that the Brazilian bloggers could potentially have a similar impact to that of their predecessors.
“This campaign is a great example of the joint education-tourism opportunities for New Zealand. Tourism New Zealand’s 100% Pure New Zealand campaign was recently launched in Brazil and bringing over these bloggers leverages that growing awareness to build the profile of New Zealand education specifically,” she says.