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Schools advised on planning for foreign students

Schools advised on planning for foreign students

Education Minister Trevor Mallard has advised schools which teach foreign students to take into account the recent developments in the export education market in their planning for next year.

“Over the last three years, the number of foreign students coming to New Zealand schools has grown very rapidly, but there are emerging signs that this growth is slowing,” Trevor Mallard said.

“The Ministry of Education and other agencies have been monitoring foreign student flows closely. Although foreign student numbers in schools in March 2003 were higher than in March 2002, the rate of growth slowed in line with a flattening of student visa applications during the second half of 2002.

“Since January, a clear decline in applications from key markets has occurred. In China, Hong Kong and South Korea, student visa applications have fallen to as little as half the number recorded in equivalent months last year.

“Factors underlying these emerging trends may include unwillingness to travel due to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and international security concerns, but may also be symptomatic of a general slowing of the export education market.

“This means schools which choose to take foreign students need to allow for this change in student numbers as part of their overall planning for next year, especially if the downward trend continues.

“I have asked the Ministry of Education to provide further advice to schools on trends in the export education market as new statistics come to hand,” Trevor Mallard said.

Most of the estimated 80,000 foreign students in New Zealand come from Asia.

“Sars is a timely reminder of the potential risk for this industry in relying too heavily on just a couple of markets,” Trevor Mallard said.

“I recently completed an education mission to the Middle East and United States, planned well before the advent of Sars but nevertheless aimed in part at diversifying and expanding New Zealand’s export education markets.”

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