[color=olive:5650b4ec9b][b:5650b4ec9b]Kiwi graduates flee NZ [/b:5650b4ec9b][/color:5650b4ec9b]
29 March 2006

Nearly a quarter of Kiwis with a tertiary qualification live overseas, an international report shows. New Zealand is second only behind Ireland for the number of tertiary-educated people who have moved overseas, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report covering its 30 member nations. New Zealand has 24.4 per cent of its New Zealand-born tertiary-educated population living in other OECD countries.

"It's an astounding figure," National's education spokesman, Bill English, said. "It shows that our graduates are now on a global market and are successful on a global market and it shows how attractive and dynamic our economy needs to be to keep them."

A spokesman for Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen said the Government was aware many tertiary-educated Kiwis were heading overseas, but hoped the new student-loan scheme would help keep them at home.

"The Government acknowledges the benefits of overseas travel to young New Zealanders, but we hope the new interest-free student-loan scheme, effective from the first of April, encourages more graduates to stay in New Zealand or return more quickly to contribute to our economy and society," the spokesman said. "Under the new policy, those who travel overseas to work will still have to pay interest."

English said students loans were only part of the wider issue of why graduates were not coming home. "I think it's a much bigger issue than student loans. Many young people, they come back if they believe there's something to come back to, and lifestyle isn't enough for the tertiary graduate," English said. "We're not going to be able to offer opportunities to every successful graduate, but the fact that so many of them are overseas shows that we're competing for them."

New Zealand's population has been greatly affected by the high numbers of immigrants coming into the country, the report also shows. New Zealand's population growth has been high at 1.3 per cent compared with the OECD average of 0.8 per cent, and it has the second biggest foreign-born population at 19.5 per cent, behind Australia on 23.1 per cent. High immigration has also contributed to New Zealand having one of the youngest populations, with only 12.2 per cent of the population over 65.

Kiwis also showed up in the report's crime statistics. New Zealand has the third highest proportion of adults in prison, with 132 adults per 100,000 population being imprisoned, behind the Czech Republic with 150 and the United States with 469. Kiwis are the most likely to be victims of car theft and burglary, with 2.7 per cent of the population reporting being the victim of car theft in 2000, and 4.3 per cent being the victims of burglary.

New Zealand was also found to be one of 10 countries with 50 per cent or more adults being defined as overweight or obese. New Zealand has the seventh highest number of overweight or obese people, with 56.2 per cent of Kiwi adults in that category.