EIT Hawke’s Bay’s international student numbers are on the rise – outstripping New Zealand-wide growth in the sector over the last year and injecting millions of dollars into the regional economy.
Figures released this week by Education Minister Anne Tolley show New Zealand turning around steadily declining international student numbers recorded from 2003 to 2008.
This year reversed the decline, with New Zealand attracting 76,562 fee-paying international students compared with 72,540 in 2008 – a 5.5 percent increase.
EIT recorded a 9.9 percent increase in international fee-paying students, up from 373 in 2008 to 410 this year. The students were drawn from 36 different countries and their study programmes covered four faculties.
Business and computing was the most popular study area, followed by arts and social sciences, science and technology, and health and sport science.
EIT is on track to earn $2.734 million from international student fees over the 12-month period – seven percent of its total revenue. Last year, its international fee income was $2.383 million.
“Education is one of our top three service exports,” Mrs Tolley said. “Last year it contributed $2.1 billion to our economy, supported more than 32,000 jobs and provided our education institutions with nearly $600 million in fees.”
EIT’s international centre manager Christine Wright said 36 nationalities were represented by international fee-paying students enrolled at the institute, and the benefits were not just financial.
“International students bring their own unique flavour and cultural heritage with them from home. They really add to campus life, and we celebrate this diversity with activities held throughout the year.”
Local students also benefited from the opportunity to learn alongside students who came from some of the world’s largest cities to gain a New Zealand qualification.
“It’s a win-win for both groups of students.”
Ms Wright said New Zealand’s international student numbers dipped “when the Chinese bubble burst” – its impact most marked, for EIT and other tertiary institutions, in 2005/06.
The triggers were the collapse of several private education providers, which left many of their overseas students stranded and cashless, and widespread coverage in China of attacks on foreign students in New Zealand.
China was formerly EIT’s biggest market for international students. Now the greatest growth came from India, with students from the subcontinent making up 46 percent of the institute’s international students.
Indian students were not permitted to come to New Zealand for English language courses, and many of those attending EIT were enrolled in business, computing and nursing programmes.
The institute was also targeting China, and recently appointed a Mandarin-speaking international marketing manager for North-East Asia. This year, Chinese comprised nine percent of EIT’s international student numbers.
Subcontracted by Victoria University, EIT continued to run short, Government-funded, English language courses for officials from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and other South-East Asian countries. Growth in Saudi students coming to study English language had levelled off.
“EIT is aiming for 250 international equivalent full-time students next year – eight percent of the study body. That compares to 230 efts achieved this year,”‘ Ms Wright said.