“It’s really helpful to have that experience when you’re job seeking.”
Hands-on experience is an important part of the New Zealand style of learning. It develops students’ creativity, decision-making, flexibility, critical thinking and problem-solving, which are among the top 10 skills the World Economic Forum says will be most needed to thrive in workplaces of the future.
As well as getting practical experience at vet clinics, students learn how to treat and take care of animals through demonstrations, practical sessions, group work, small group tutorials and real-life case studies.
“We have a totally different style of lessons here,” he says
“In China, we focus on exams and tests and theory. In New Zealand, we focus on practical experience.”
Richard says he has appreciated the fantastic support he has had from his lecturers and from Unitec’s natural science department.
A highlight of Richard’s studies has been going to Tonga with the charity South Pacific Animal Welfare to vaccinate and de-sex cats and dogs. The island nation has no vet clinic of its own.
“We saw nearly 300 animals and carried out 183 surgeries in 10 days,” he says. “It was an amazing experience and I learned lots of nursing skills.”
New Zealand’s beautiful natural environment and excellent animal welfare regulations were among the reasons why Richard chose New Zealand for his overseas study.
“To me, New Zealand is the best place to learn to care for animals. Animals here have very good care from their owners and from vets,” says Richard.
Before starting his diploma, Richard gained a one-year New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology, also at Unitec. When he arrived in New Zealand, he took a foundation studies course at ACG in Auckland.
He hopes to work in New Zealand as a vet nurse once he has gained his diploma, and will then work towards achieving his long-term goal of training to become a vet.