Two Vietnamese students will head to two Bay of Plenty schools as some of the first recipients of a new government-led scholarship programme.

The New Zealand Schools Scholarship is the first of its kind exclusively offered to Vietnamese students and Rotorua's John Paul College and Mount Maunganui College are ready to give the students a taste of the Kiwi lifestyle.

The scholarship provides part of the tuition fee for the first year of study for the students. Thirty-six New Zealand schools in nine regions are taking part.

A teacher from each college is currently in Vietnam visiting schools in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to promote the scholarship and explore further relations.

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Mount Maunganui College principal Alastair Sinton said international connections for the school were highly beneficial for his students.

He said allowing them to connect with students from other cultural backgrounds was important to open their minds and expose them to the wider world, especially in light of recent events.

He said the school currently had a large international student base, with 60 students from all corners of the world.

International director at John Paul College Mike Dwight was welcomed by music class students at Vinschool Hanoi. Photo / Supplied
International director at John Paul College Mike Dwight was welcomed by music class students at Vinschool Hanoi. Photo / Supplied

John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said the school recognised Vietnam as one of the strongest emerging Asian economies, so the connection was vital.

He said Vietnamese people placed huge value on education, something they had in common with New Zealand.

In the past, John Paul College has had a number of Vietnamese students, who Walsh said were hardworking and involved, so he was keen to keep those connections strong.

The students were also treated to a "taste of the Kiwi lifestyle" and given the opportunity to rapidly develop their English skills within their homestay families.

He said the scholarship would help make current students more aware they lived in a "global village" with a diverse range of cultures, world views, and religions.

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"A strong international programme breaks down barriers for all students."

The students would either stay with homestay families or relatives.

International education is New Zealand's fourth-largest export industry, with an estimated economic value of $5.1 billion for 2017.

According to Education New Zealand 2017 figures, Vietnamese school students studying in New Zealand contributed about $21m to the economy.

Education New Zealand chief executive Grant McPherson said the partnership would hopefully open up opportunities for New Zealand teachers and students to have an international education experience in Vietnam.

He said international education was essential to the global good, as it encouraged diversity, inclusion and tolerance.

Scholarship entries opened on March 1 and the Vietnamese students will begin their study in Term 3, starting on July 22.