Foreign student rise expected in schools

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:00 14/06/2014

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The Government predicts international student numbers in New Zealand will grow this year, despite an overall drop in numbers last year, including in Nelson.

The International Education Snapshot: 2013 full year report released on Thursday provided a snapshot of the trends in New Zealand's international education industry for last year. There were 97,283 international students enrolled in New Zealand education providers last year, down 1.8 per cent compared with 2012.

The report looked at international student number at universities, polytechnics, primary and secondary schools.

Overall there was a 1 per cent decrease in numbers of equivalent fulltime students (EFTS) at polytechnics, compared with 2012.

Nelson showed a larger fall, at 21 per cent, in international students. However, Marlborough had a 67 per cent increase.

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology chief executive Tony Gray said this number was reflective of NMIT, which was the only polytechnic in Nelson. Gray was not expecting growth in international numbers this year.

He said last year's drop in international student numbers could be attributed to a loss of about 70 Indian students due to a contract dispute. In 2013 it targeted for 595 international EFTS but the actual number was 445, while in 2012 the number of international students at NMIT overall was 552.

He said the leap in Marlborough was because there were smaller numbers enrolled there. He said the percentage jump could be down to a small increase in students.

He said international enrolments this year were expected to be similar to last year.

Most international students enrolled in businesses programmes but NMIT was working to attract more to its aviation, maritime, arts and media, and conservation courses, as well as to its viticulture and aquaculture courses.

The report also looked at secondary schools, which showed there was a 2 per cent decrease in international students enrolled last year. In Nelson, this was a 10 per cent decrease compared with 2012 while in Marlborough the number plummeted by 36 per cent.

Nelson College headmaster Gary O'Shea said the school had recently been marketing in China.

He said the school aimed to have between 50 and 60 international students each year. Last year, it has 59 and this year it had 48. "We are holding our own," he said.

He said the school had a strong roll growth in its day students.

"We are not reliant on it. [International student numbers] put the cream on the cake," he said. Most international students were from Thailand, Hong Kong, China and Japan.

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The school planned to market to German school as well.

He said most of the Asian students would stay for multiple years and then go to university in New Zealand.

All other colleges in Nelson took international students. April enrolments figures for this year showed Nelson College for Girls had 41, Waimea, 66 and Nayland College had 63 international students. Figures for last year were not made available.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse expected numbers to grow across New Zealand this year, particularly at a post-graduate level.

Woodhouse says the report indicated a strong end to 2013 that left New Zealand well placed for growth in international student numbers in 2014.

He said the number of international students enrolling with New Zealand providers from the period May to December 2013 increased by 4 per cent on the same period in 2012.

He said student visa data also indicated numbers were growing this year.

"Total approved student visas, which are available before enrolment data, were up 22 per cent in the January to March 2014 period on 2013, bringing total student visas back up to 2010 levels."

- The Nelson Mail

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