Foreign students return to city

17:00, Aug 03 2014
Sally Park, 11, Lauren Jong, 12,  Lily Koh, 12,  Sophia Zhang, 12,  Junseo Lee, 11, and Owen Go
PLAYGROUND FUN: International students at Merrin School, from left, Sally Park, 11, Lauren Jong, 12, Lily Koh, 12, Sophia Zhang, 12, Junseo Lee, 11, and Owen Go, 12, reflect an increase in the number of students returning to Christchurch after the earthquakes.

International students are returning to Christchurch in growing numbers, as the market shows signs of recovery.

Some schools are experiencing an upturn in international students - it is the first time the numbers have increased since the earthquakes.

International student numbers plummeted after the quakes, dropping to a low of 6543 in 2012, less than half the 15,033 who studied in Canterbury in 2010.

Last year the Ministry of Education recorded 7204 international students in Canterbury. The latest student visa data also shows an increase, with 5420 students with study visas in July compared to 4737 in July last year.

The visa data do not include students who come to study for less than 12 weeks.

Education New Zealand Christchurch programme manager Emily Branthwaite said she was seeing good numbers coming through, but it would probably take another four years to reach pre-earthquake levels.


There had been a significant rise in students coming for shorter periods, she said.

Kaiapoi High School principal Bruce Kearney said the school would soon host 32 Japanese pupils for one week, but there was always the possibility they could return for longer.

The school had about 30 fulltime equivalent students, up from 22 last year.

"It's really positive for us. They are not talking about the earthquake anymore."

Riccarton High School principal Phil Holstein said he was encouraged by a steady increase in numbers.

"We're moving slowly back again, but we're not anywhere near pre-quake levels."

In 2011, the school had 80 fulltime equivalent international students, generating more than $1 million in income. It was budgeting for 45 this year and was hopeful of achieving 50.

The primary school market is taking longer to improve, with some schools struggling to get any international students, but others were starting to experience an increase.

Cashmere School principal Jacqui Duncan said before the quakes the school had 10 international students and now it had none. One international student was due to enrol in term 4.

"My understanding is it's starting to get better. International students are starting to come back to Christchurch, but the evidence at our school is still zero."

Halswell School principal Bruce Topham said the school had just welcomed 12 students from South Korea, China and Japan. They would be at the school for between three weeks and a year.

Before the quakes, the school had up to 30 fulltime equivalent international students. Since the quakes it has averaged one.

Merrin School international director Mary Johnston said the school had returned to its pre-quake numbers and was hosting a growing number of short-term students, especially from China.

Sophia Zhang, 12, of China, said she loved attending school in New Zealand and liked being able to learn French.


International fee-paying students in Canterbury

2013 7204

2012 6543

2011 9208

2010 15,033

Source: Ministry of Education 

The Press