Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence - more information and FAQs

12 July 2016

The Tertiary Education Commission will be consulting with universities and other key stakeholders in July and August to contribute to the details of the Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPEs)programme. Following consultation, we will be seeking applications to host CAPEs through a Request for Funding Applications (RFA) process.

What is CAPEs?

The CAPEs programme is a key initiative in the Export Markets stream of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda and the Tertiary Education Strategy (especially Priority 6: Growing International Linkages).

The Government has allocated $34.5 million over four years to develop new Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPEs) in New Zealand universities as part of the Innovative New Zealand package in Budget 2016.

The opportunity

International connections are economically, politically and socially important to New Zealand. Our future is increasingly tied in with the Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for 50 percent of world trade, and 71 percent of our total trade. This includes 11 of our top 20 trading partners.

New Zealand is also an increasingly diverse society, with a rapidly growing proportion of our population from the Asia-Pacific region.

We must secure our future by investing more in preparing New Zealanders to understand the language, culture and economies of this diverse range of countries. New Zealanders and our businesses need to become more internationally connected and culturally aware, particularly with the Asia-Pacific rim.

Our ability to more successfully engage, understand and partner with our trading nations will pay future dividends for our economy and international relationships, and will have positive social cohesion dividends domestically. The tertiary education system plays an important role in developing these capabilities.

The CAPEs initiative

CAPEs will further develop New Zealand’s Asia-Pacific rim knowledge and language skills, facilitating collaboration between tertiary education providers and stakeholders to enhance our partnerships with the Asia-Pacific region. CAPEs will be cross-institutional centres of excellence in the language, culture, politics and economics of the Asia-Pacific region.

The CAPEs will specialise in countries or groups of countries in North Asia, South East Asia and Latin America. Each CAPE will develop strong linkages with its region of specialty, facilitate student and faculty exchanges, and become a focal point for New Zealand’s relationship with that part of the world. CAPEs will also train language-capable graduates for New Zealand exporters, MFAT, and other government agencies with posts offshore.

Each CAPE will be led by a university, but will involve partnerships and collaboration with other stakeholders including education providers and other organisations.

Core focus areas of CAPEs

CAPEs will focus on:

1. Developing Asia-Pacific rim language and intercultural capability and capacity by:

  • facilitating increased numbers of students learning Asia-Pacific languages, in conjunction with the Asian Language Learning in Schools programme to ensure there is an effective pipeline of language learning from schools to university level
  • supporting new provision of Asia-Pacific languages, for example by connecting expertise and teaching across the tertiary sector
  • facilitating increasing numbers of students studying the cultures, societies, politics, economics and other relevant subjects about this region, especially in conjunction with subjects that may benefit from an international perspective, e.g. business management or science
  • increasing the numbers of student and academic exchanges
  • raising the profile and importance of learning Asia-Pacific languages and other subjects about the region

2. Researching and developing New Zealand’s knowledge of the Asia-Pacific rim countries and their economies by leading collaborative research into the societies, cultures, economic and political history of the region

3. Growing international education linkages around the Asia-Pacific rim by:

  • coordinating and enhancing New Zealand’s engagement with the region, for government agencies, businesses, target country universities and research institutes, and non-governmental organisations
  • becoming a first point of contact for businesses, organisations and individuals interested in accessing region-specific expertise and developing relationships
  • increasing person-to-person connections.

Rather than duplicating existing education provision, CAPEs will facilitate more efficient and effective collaboration to enhance the use of existing delivery and funding mechanisms, to support learning for current students, those already in the workforce, and people looking to retrain or upskill.


Consultation will take place in July and August on the details of the CAPEs programme. We will then seek applications from one or more education providers and other stakeholders through a Request for Funding Applications (RFA) process.

Further information on the RFA process (including dates) will be made available on our website once consultation is completed.

More information

Read the FAQs about CAPEs:

FAQs for Centres for Asia-Pacific Excellence (PDF, 178 Kb).

For further information you can also email CAPEs@tec.govt.nz.

  • Last changed: 12 July 2016
  • Last verified: 12 July 2016