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Changing Markets Require Flexible Planning

Education New Zealand Media Advisory

‘Changing Markets Require Flexible Planning’

9/12/03: For immediate general release.

“Changing patterns of international student enrolments need to be carefully factored into schools planning and role projections’. That’s the word from Education New Zealand Chief Executive Robert Stevens, who today released a survey of expected international enrolments from China, conducted by ENZ over the last few weeks.

The survey was prompted by anecdotal evidence that secondary schools were enrolling less students from China for 2004 than they had in 2003. Eighty two schools responded to the survey, representing about a third by student volume of the sector. Key findings from the survey include:

- Chinese enrolments were about 20% ahead of expectation for the first term in 2003

- The number of applications from Chinese students, and the rate of conversion from application to enrolment are lower at this point than they were last year

- The expected number of Chinese students in first term 2004 is 36% of the actual number enrolled in first term 2003

- Of the 82 schools responding, 4 were expecting an increase in Chinese student numbers and 4 expected numbers to be static. The balance expected numbers to be lower.

The survey also invited responses from other sectors including language schools, PTE’s and state tertiary providers. The trend was similar although not as pronounced across all sectors with the exception of universities, who are forecasting growth in Chinese enrolments.

‘Care should be taken when interpreting these figures’ says Rob Stevens. ‘Our survey was not based on robust scientific principals, as the intention was simply to obtain a “heads-up” on expected numbers. It should also be noted that many schools are actively managing their Chinese student numbers, and are interested in diversifying their student sources to ensure a good balance and lessen dependence on a single market. However, the findings of the survey do back up anecdotal reports, and we are sure schools are carefully planning the impact that reduced numbers from China will make to their overall operations’.

A decreased dependence on China as a source of students is backed up by the just released Ministry of Education figures on international students in schools during 2003. The statistics show that although the number of Chinese students decreased slightly, overall there was a 14% increase in the total number of international students enrolled in New Zealand schools.

‘The Ministry figures show that the ratio of Chinese students in schools as compared to the total number of international students has dropped from about 36% to 31%’ says Rob Stevens. ‘This is positive in that schools have recognised the need to diversify. However, we note that the importance of Korea as a market for schools has leapt up during 2003, from around 33% in 2002 to over 41% this year. Notwithstanding the reality that the vast majority of international students in primary and intermediate schools will be from Korea due to the particular requirements of that market, the bottom line is that dependence on the combined Chinese and Korean markets has gone up from under 70% to over 72%. We still strongly recommend pursuing a broad diversification strategy, because we know from past experience that individual markets will often respond sharply to stimuli beyond the industries control, such as deterioration in a countries economy.’

‘Growth in markets such as Europe, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam is very pleasing and vindicates the efforts that industry is making in these and many other markets’ says Rob Stevens. ‘However, there are no magic answers. Developing and expanding markets takes effort time and money. The long term outlook is good for a continuing demand in international education from an increasing number of markets. But in the short and medium term, institutions need to be prepared for possible volatility in student numbers, rather than the relentless surge that has characterised the last five years, especially from China and to a certain extent Korea. As a trading and export nation, New Zealand businesses are used to the swings and roundabouts of the international marketplace. Export education is no different’.

Ends

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