June 2009 issue

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NZ turbo power

ELT providers in New Zealand are still gunning for immigration reform but despite restricted access to work rights, student numbers performed well in 2008. And with a new government in power, a reassessment of visa policy could be on the cards. Nicola Hancox reports.

We’ve had a very good last 12 months,” relates Brett Shirreffs, Marketing Manager at Languages International in Auckland. “We’ve seen strong increases in both weeks delivered in school and in weeks booked, compared to the 12 months to the end of March 2008,” he says.

In fact, 10 of the 15 institutions canvassed for this article reported a growth in student enrolments with Allan Goodhall, International Manager at Mount Maunganui College in Mount Maunganui, reporting an impressive 37 per cent surge, while Gus Fahy, Manager at Language Schools New Zealand in Christchurch, recorded a more modest, but equally impressive, 14 per cent rise. “Year-to-date for student numbers we are 14 per cent ahead of the equivalent period in 2008. Forward bookings are also ahead a similar percentage,” Fahy notes.

This is positive news indeed and many providers attribute this good fortune to a weakened currency. Beth Knowles, International Director at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) asserts, “The lower New Zealand dollar and improved exchange rate has made studying in New Zealand excellent value for money. It means it costs students significantly less now than one year ago for tuition fees and cost of living.”

A favourable exchange rate has certainly helped win Japanese enrolments at Mount Maunganui Language Centre too, albeit with some caution remaining in the market. Geoff Butler, Director at the school says, “Japanese enrolments are up thanks to a strong yen, but students still seem to be cautious about committing to courses due to the world economic climate.”

Restrictive immigration requirements and a lack of access to work rights continue to put a damper on business, however, and providers remain baffled by the government’s lack of support. “Visa conditions continue to hinder our performance,” states Butler. “Until conditions are brought into line with our competitors, our market share will suffer.” Justin Mastoyo, Principal at Geos Christchurch Language Centre, says, “I have spoken to a number of agents, in particular from China and Vietnam, and it is their opinion that NZ Immigration’s criteria for approving student visas is extremely challenging and difficult to meet in terms of financial obligations.” Meanwhile, Goodhall anticipates that Indian student numbers will suffer in 2009. “There’s a likelihood of India becoming increasingly viewed as high risk by Immigration New Zealand,” he warns.

Shirreffs, however, is hopeful the new government (elected back in November 2008) may bring about some much needed change. “There are changes in the wind to Working Holiday Visa and Student Visa regulations that should enable NZ language schools to compete more effectively with our competitors, especially Australia,” he suggests.

Asians (Korean, Japanese and Chinese students most notably) continue to be essential to New Zealand language schools in terms of student enrolment, while Saudi Arabians are increasingly making their presence felt. Andrea Pala, Principal at Language Studies International in Auckland, reasons that a scholarship scheme set up by the Saudi government back in 2007 has helped no end. Shirreffs concurs and says the scheme also had a significant effect on their business in 2008. “We think the Saudi market will hold for a while, but it can’t keep growing indefinitely at the rate it has been.”

Meanwhile, several schools have seen an upsurge in the number of Latin American students. Claire Easterbrook, International Manager at Mount Aspiring College in Wanaka, observes that Brazilian students appreciate courses that enable them to study alongside domestic students. “Brazil is more likely to enrol students from February onwards to start the year when our New Zealand students start also,” she says.

Finally, educators are indicating that exam preparation and university pathway programmes are more in demand (see box).

Tertiary and vocational aims

Gus Fahy at Language Schools New Zealand in Christchurch has seen interest in language plus activity programmes subside. “Our experience shows that Study & Activity numbers have actually declined over recent years,” he notes. Instead he has seen a predilection for more academically focused courses. “There is solid demand for exam courses and Cambridge is important in Europe where we have expanded our representation.”

Geoff Butler at Mount Maunganui Language Centre concurs. “We are developing further pathway courses to higher study and have made our examination preparation options more flexible,” he notes. And Nick Arnott from Christchurch College of English (CCEL), reports that they are in the midst of developing a bridging and foundation programme with the University of Canterbury.

CCEL is also in talks to start offering short university certificate courses that have a vocational leaning. “These courses will have appeal in markets like Japan and South America,” says Arnott.

Beth Knowles at CPIT says they have also increased the number of Cambridge and Ielts preparation courses on offer. CPIT also wants to add more vocational electives in 2010. “Many students on Working Holiday Visas enjoy studying in our elective programmes,” she says, “as it helps them to gain skills and confidence in employment.”

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.





Britannia Student

English Australia
Feltom Malta  
International House
      World Organisation
Languages Canada /
      Langues Canada  
Perth Education City

Feltom Malta  
LTM Star Awards  

Hub and Spoke
      Connections Limited

Malta Tourism

BASP (Buenos Aires
      Spanish School)
Ecela - Latin
      (Argentina, Chile,
Ability Education
Embassy CES  
English Australia  
Geos Oceania
      (Australia, New
Language Studies
      (Canada, France,
Pacific Gateway
      International College
Perth Education City
Southbank Institute
      Of Technology  
University of
University of Western
      Sydney College  

Berlitz Canada
Bow Valley College
Camber College
English Bay College
Hansa Language
      Centre of Toronto  
IH Toronto  
King George
      International College
Languages Canada /
      Langues Canada  
Ottawa International
      Student Programmes
Richmond School
      District #38  
Stewart College of
Vancouver English

Bell International 
      (Malta, UK) 
International House
      World Organisation
Kaplan Aspect  
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
LAL Language and
      (Canada, Cyprus,
      Ireland, England,
      South Africa, Spain,
      Switzerland, USA)
London Metropolitan
Malvern House
      College London  
Shakespeare College
St Clare's Oxford
Study Group
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,
Queen Ethelburga's
Twin Group
      (Ireland, UK, USA)
University of Essex -

Alliance Française
      Paris Ile de France  
Universite de Paris
SILC - Séjours
      (England, France,

International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

Genki Japanese
      and Culture School  
Kai Japanese
      Language School  
      Language School  

      University of Creative

Clubclass Residential
      Language School  
Feltom Malta  
Malta Tourism

The University
      Of Auckland -
      Massey University  

Pamplona Learning
      Spanish Institute  

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Costa Rica,
      Ecuador, England,
      France, Germany,
      Italy, Malta, New
      Zealand, Singapore,
      South Africa, Spain,

Angelo State
Arizona State
Brown University  
inlingua Language
      Service Center  
Syracuse University
University of Arizona
University of
      California Riverside  
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)