Export education sector in New Zealand feels the pinch

Published:  12 Mar at 6 PM
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A combination of the high New Zealand dollar rate, the world-wide recession and the 2011 Christchurch earthquake have hit the country’s export education industry hard since 2009.

Numbers of international students applying for New Zealand student visas have dropped by 25 per cent over the last three years with approvals in 2012, the worst year on record, declining by 10 per cent. Reasons given were the soaring currency, the recession and the devastating earthquakes in Christchurch, once a hub for the industry.

Government measures to stimulate demand for export education have failed to make an impact, leading to the country’s immigration minister, Michael Woodhouse, to set an ambitious target of doubling the revenue form the sector by 2025. Measures already in place include cost and red tape cuts, faster visa processing and the extending of work rights to students studying the English language.

In spite of the incentives, numbers applying for student visas have fallen from 46,000 in 2009 to under 34,700 in 2012. According to NZ immigration general manager Stephen Dunstan, the Christchurch earthquakes have accounted for a 36 per cent reduction in student numbers since 2011, as many of the educational institutes were located in the city centre and totally destroyed.

Dunstan added that the industry worldwide had suffered falls in student numbers, quoting an 8.5 per cent drop in Australian enrolments in 2011. Further concessions to the working holiday schemes now allow a six-month study period and also permit those on visitor visas to study short-term.

Spokesman for the International Education Group Paul Chalmers considers that poor quality private education centres are to blame for the drop in enrolments. He adds that rubbish establishments have proved resilient and are wrecking the industry’s overseas reputation.
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