Waikato a drawcard for tertiary students

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 05:00 11/04/2014

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Waikato has attracted more tertiary students this year than last, and trade and vocational studies appear to be a growing attraction.

Skills from drain laying to cyber security and tikanga Maori can be studied in Waikato at its three major tertiary institutions: the University of Waikato, Wintec, and Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

They say growing reputations, specialist knowledge and trade or vocational courses are behind the increases.

At Wintec the major growth story is Waikato Trades Academy.

Student numbers have increased since it began in 2011 with 48 - this year 420 students from 25 Waikato secondary schools are enrolled.

The academy is part of a government-led initiative where year 11 to 13 students can get a head start in a trade or vocation by studying at the institute of technology and school at the same time.

"We're always looking for new ways to deliver education to different markets. Our Waikato Trades Academy is an example of this," Wintec's support and marketing director Warwick Pitts said.

Overall student numbers at Wintec were on par with the same time last year with 4034 equivalent fulltime students (EFTS), and international student enrolments were up six per cent on the same time last year.

Pitts said demand for education was increasing as New Zealand emerged from a recession.

"It's good to see that there is still a consistent demand for quality vocational training and people are continuing to retrain and up-skill in their careers," he said.

The University of Waikato's new domestic enrolments have jumped 4 per cent on the same time last year to 7789 EFTS. They included school leavers, people new to tertiary study and students transferring from other providers.

"It's a maturing market. We have well-established tertiary providers. I think it's a student-friendly city. I think the number of young people in the city as a proportion is significant," deputy vice chancellor professor Alister Jones said.

The main increases had been in areas such as computer science and engineering, social sciences and management.

"Those are areas where we have significant international reputation and I think that message is getting through to [secondary] schools . . . The other thing is we're seeing transfers also from other tertiary providers."

International enrolments were just behind the same time last year - 893 were enrolled as of April 7 but more students were due to arrive during the year. Students from China, India and Malaysia were the largest groups, but more than 70 different countries were represented.

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Increasing numbers were coming through partnerships with international universities, which allowed students to start a degree in their home country and transfer to Waikato, Jones said.

At Te Wananga o Aotearoa's Tainui campuses student numbers were already 5 per cent ahead of the same time last year, director of delivery Turi Ngatai said.Te Wananga has multiple sites throughout Waikato - from Huntly to Te Kuiti and Tokoroa - and offers 45 qualifications across subject areas including Te Reo Maori, business, and health, sport and fitness. For many, the attraction was low to no fees and the Maori principles and values, Ngatai said.

- Waikato Times

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