Mixed news in New Zealand’s student data

August 29, 2013

New Zealand experienced an overall decline in international students in the first few months of this year, but decreases were mostly restricted to Private Training Establishments (PTEs), while universities and institutes of technology recorded growth, according to data released by the Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce.

Source – Education New Zealand, International Education Snapshot January – April 2013

The annual International Education Snapshot report for January 1 to April 30 revealed a three per cent decline in overall international student numbers to 80,358, compared with 82,201 in the same period last year.

The most marked declines were in the PTE sector with a 10 per cent year-on-year drop in overseas students. Within this sector, there were significant declines from Colombia (220 students, a 55 per cent drop), the Philippines (206 students, 36 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (324, 34 per cent).

In contrast, universities and institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) recorded international student increases of two and three per cent respectively. There was significant growth in enrolments on master’s level courses (up 22 per cent) and PhDs (six per cent). China accounted for a substantial amount of the increase with an additional 905 students in universities, a 15 per cent jump, and 268 students at ITPs, an eight per cent rise.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce welcomed increases at postgraduate level. “More generally, we are seeing a move towards higher levels of study and longer periods of study in New Zealand, and this is positive for our brand. However, the high New Zealand dollar and increased competition are affecting student enrolments at a number of private sector providers particularly.”

The school sector was relatively stable, with a two per cent growth in international students at primary level offset by a two per cent drop at secondary level.

The Canterbury region showed some signs of recovery, with growth of eight per cent at PTEs, bucking the national trend, and four per cent respectively at ITPs, while declines at universities slowed. “This is positive for the region and I have confidence that the enrolment numbers will increase as Canterbury tertiary education providers get back on their feet,” said Joyce.

Grant McPherson, Education New Zealand (ENZ) Chief Executive, said, “ENZ is working to build awareness of New Zealand as a study destination internationally in conjunction with and on behalf of education providers around the country. This report indicates conditions have been challenging for the first quarter of the year and will remain so in the short term, but the longer-term outlook is bright.”

The snapshot led to ENZ predicting an overall decline for 2013 full-year results. “In the short term, visa and enrolment data indicates the 2013 year-end result will show a decline in student numbers on 2012, although tuition fee revenue and economic benefits are expected to remain steady,” ENZ said in the report, and also acknowledged education exports would need to intensify at a faster rate if the target of the industry being worth NZ$5 billion (US$3.8 billion) by 2025 is to be met.

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