July 2006 issue

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NZ in the doldrums

The news is not good from New Zealand: student enrolment figures in 2005 were down on 2004, which itself was a bad year for business. However, there is hope that the country is turning a corner. Amy Baker reports.

The biggest challenge for Dominion English Schools in New Zealand this year will be “staying afloat”, according to John Langdon, Managing Director of the two schools in Christchurch and Auckland. He pulls no punches when assessing the previous year as “bloody awful” and the Ministry of Education statistics back up his analysis: 10,000 fewer international students were recorded in New Zealand between January and August last year compared with the previous year – and the English language teaching (ELT) sector was the worst affected.

“2005 was another tough year for international educators in New Zealand, especially for secondary schools and English language providers,” confirms Stuart Boag of Education New Zealand. “The overall number of students in these two sectors went down around 20 per cent by comparison with the year before, which wasn’t a great year either.”

The reasons for this downward trend remain the same as ever; the bottoming out of the lucrative Chinese student market, a high New Zealand dollar and stiffer competition from other international education destinations – particularly neighbour, Australia, which has improved its visa policy for some nationalities (such as Koreans). Boag says, “The primary cause of the downturn is the changing Chinese market – it is down to about half what it was at the peak. So even though other markets are actually improving, China was such a big percentage that the fall in numbers from there has outweighed increases [from] elsewhere.”

The reasons for China’s sudden downturn have been explored, and greater provision of education opportunities in China and greater appeal of other destinations, where part-time work is possible, are crucial factors. While the slowdown from China doesn’t look likely to change in the future, other factors, such as the high value of the New Zealand dollar, no longer pose a barrier to growth, however.

“The lower NZ dollar will help student recruitment in all countries,” says Angela Oliver from Unique NZ Education in Auckland, and Robert Zuch, Director of Aspiring Language Institute in Merivale, adds, “As the NZ dollar finally fell and stayed down in April, we hope this will bring back those of our clients who are more sensitive to pricing.”

Oliver lists some other issues affecting the market in New Zealand: airfares being unrealistically expensive, the burden of compliance with government legislation and the education export levy (see Language Travel Magazine, February 2003, page 4) cutting into funds available for marketing. There is no doubt that while there has been considerable government involvement in regulating and promoting the industry, not all the attention has been welcomed.

“More emphasis should be placed at government level on actual quality of service rather than documentation of service,” suggests Oliver. At Worldwide School of English, Cleve Brown notes, “The government has made a mess of the industry over the last couple of years.” It has at least committed funds for promoting the wider industry, although its priorities have been questioned by some in the ELT industry (see left).

There are other reasons to be encouraged for the future, according to Oliver. She says increasing flight availability from South America is helping boost enrolments, and along with Bryan Read at the University of Auckland, she attests to growing interest from the Middle East in New Zealand’s education products. Oliver attributes this to new marketing initiatives by English New Zealand and “New Zealand’s excellent reputation in that region”.

Some visa problems are reported in Russia, Brazil, Vietnam and other high-risk countries, where “individual visa officers bring their own interpretation to the requirements,” says Oliver. But she points out that the Association of Private Providers of English Language (Appel) is working with the immigration department on this and on a current immigration policy review. Oliver sums up the mood in the industry, which is “cautiously optimistic”. Some providers already report increases in enrolments this year on 2005 and all are hopeful of such a result by the year-end.

Government support for education

“Education is a vital part of the ties that link New Zealand to other nations,” said New Zealand’s Education Minister, Trevor Mallard, when announcing an increase in funding of NZ$21 million (US$13.2 million) to support the country’s international education sector last year. The total investment in the five years to June 2009 now totals NZ$70 million (US$44 million), and it is clear that the government is keen to build revenue from its international education sector, which it says is one of the country’s most successful international export industries.

“This new funding is focused on expanding the government’s off-shore education counsellor network and providing incentives to attract more top quality doctoral level students to New Zealand,” said Mallard. “These new initiatives support [the previous] package which provided funds for up to four off-shore education counsellors, improving quality systems, scholarships and study abroad awards, a fund to support innovative international education delivery and strategic promotion and marketing.”

However, some English language providers have complained that the government funding is unfairly distributed across different education sectors. “Most [money] was used for postgraduate scholarships – with any [other education programmes] required channelled totally through university language schools,” says Darren Conway at Languages International in Auckland and Christchurch.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.




Asociación Gallega
       de Escuelas de
       Español - AGAES
Education New
       Zealand Trust
English Australia
English UK
Quality English
Turlingua -
       Consortium of
       Travel and Tourism

       Star Awards

Malta Tourism
Language Travel

English Australia
Sydney West
       International College

Central de
       - Come 2 Brazil
IDIOMA Escola de
STB - Student Travel
       Bureau - Inbound

Access International

Mandarin House

Anglolang Academy
       of English
Aspect (Australia,
       Canada, England,
       France, Germany,
       Ireland, Malta,
       New Zealand,
       Scotland, South
       Africa, Spain, USA)
Beet Language
Bell International
       (Malta, UK)
Bristol Language
Cambridge Academy
       of English
Churchill House
Cicero Languages
Eastbourne School
       of English
Eckersley School of
English Language
       Centre Brighton &
English UK
Excel English
       Language School

Frances King
       School of English
King Street College
Lake School of
LAL Language and
       (England, Malta,
       South Africa, USA)
Languages Out
       There (England,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, Spain)
London School of
Malvern House
       Language School
Oxford Brookes
Quality English
Queen Ethelburga's
St Giles Colleges
       (UK, USA)
Study Group
       (Australia, Canada,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, New Zealand,
       South Africa,
       Spain, USA)
University of
       Sheffield (England)
West London
       Business College
Wimbledon School
       of English

Prolog- International
       House Berlin

Cork Language
       Centre International
Linguaviva Centre

International English
       Language Centre
Malta Tourism

Home Language
       Australia, Austria,
       Brazil, Canada,
       Chile, China,
       England, France,
       Germany, Holland,
       Italy, Japan, Malta,
       New Zealand,
       Portugal, Russia,
       Spain, USA)

Auckland English
Education New
       Zealand Trust
Rotorua English
       Language Academy

York School

Language Link,
Liden & Denz
       Language Centre

Cape Studies -
       Pacific Gateway
       Study Group
Interlink School of
International House
       - Durban
Jeffrey's Bay
       Language Centre
South African
       School of English

Asociación Gallega
       de Escuelas de
       Español - AGAES
Kingsbrook -
       Spanish for
Pamplona Learningn
       Spanish Institute
Turlingua -
       Consortium of
       Language Travel
       and Tourism

EF Language
       Colleges Ltd
       (Australia, Canada,
       China, Ecuador,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, Malta, New
       Zealand, Russia,
       Scotland, Spain,

American Language
California State
California State
       San Marcos
Kaplan Educational
       Centers (Canada,
       England, USA)
University of
       California Santa
University of
University of
       Nebraska at Omaha
Zoni Language


St Paul's
       International School

Richmond School
       District #38

Oxford Brookes

University of

Xincon Technology