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Changing Times for International Education

2004 Student Numbers confirm changing times for International Education

International Student statistics released recently by the Department of Statistics show a drop in the number of international students receiving English language training in New Zealand.

The just released figures show a total of 50,594 students studied with English languages providers in the year ended 30th March 2004. This is a decline of over 20,000 from the peak of 71,503 English language international students recorded the year before.

‘After years of sustained growth across all sectors, we are seeing a shift in the study patterns of international students coming to New Zealand’ says Rob Stevens, Chief Executive of Education New Zealand. ‘The English language sector has been reporting a decline in numbers for some time, and that fall is substantiated by these statistics. A 29% drop in numbers is substantial, and certainly has had a big impact for providers in that sector. However, a drop in the number of students in the English language sector does not necessarily mean an equivalent drop across all sectors.’

‘Overall, what we are seeing is a distinct shift in the dynamics of the market’ says Rob Stevens. ‘Demand for tertiary education has grown during the same time-frame. Students are looking for articulation, and are staying for the long haul. There has also been a trend from some markets to engage at the school level, rather than waiting until the completion of schooling. The overall effect is to spread numbers across all sectors. What we will be watching very carefully is how the numbers hold up in the tertiary sector. It is too early to say whether we are seeing a ‘bulge moving through the snake’ or whether the tertiary sector will experience a similar decline in the years ahead.’

‘The private English language sector is an extremely important part of the New Zealand industry’ says Rob Stevens. ‘Providers have responded to the challenge of declining numbers through market diversification and adding value to their courses. These efforts have born fruit, and it is positive to note that the dollar value of the services provided by the sector has not decreased in proportion to the numbers. At a national level, a major effort is ongoing to ensure that New Zealand stays well positioned in key markets including China. All these issues and responses will be well discussed at the forthcoming International Education Conference later this week’.

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