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Decline in English language student numbers

2 August 2005

Decline in English language student numbers hits communities

The Association of Private Providers of English Language (APPEL) expressed concern today at the impact of falling student numbers and export income in the English language school sector. Income in the March 2005 year was $313m, a 27% drop from the $426m in the March 2004 year. This follows on from a 17% drop in 2004 from 2003, when revenue was $516m.

"The $203m drop in revenue over the last two years represents thousands of jobs lost in the industry, with even more families affected by a drop in homestay students. The impact can even be seen in the apartment market," said Patrick Ibbertson, spokesperson for APPEL.

"The Government has made an explicit commitment to export education in immigration policy, but focuses on the university sector. For the English language sector to thrive, we need a policy environment that is internationally competitive. While the dollar is high, we are still losing market share to competitors facing similar exchange rates but better immigration policies."

"English language schools are also the first point of contact for many international students in New Zealand. As our numbers dry up, the pipeline dries up for other providers as well. This will affect secondary schools to some extent, but will have the greatest impact on universities."

"Beyond the immediate impact of the enrolments crash, English language students often form ongoing attachments with New Zealand and New Zealanders. One of our members is hosting a group of students from a Japanese institution for the 21st year in a row this year. Hundreds of thousands of people first experienced New Zealand within a language school. As enrolments decline, we miss out on long-term social and economic linkages."


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