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Dunedin International Student numbers rise

New research about the economic value of international education to New Zealand, shows Dunedin’s economy alone benefited by $197m over 2017/18, but it’s not just about the money.

The Education New Zealand statistics, based on approximately 7,500 survey results, show the international education sector contributed $5.1 billion to the New Zealand economy, making it the country’s fourth largest export for 2017.

Enterprise Dunedin Director John Christie says that attracting international students is worthwhile on many levels.

“Dunedin’s educational institutions understand the value of the relationships they have with their equivalent organisations offshore. These associations give their own students the opportunity to experience the social and cultural aspects of being a global citizen. With international student’s coming here, our class rooms become multi-cultural environments.”

International students attending Dunedin schools in 2017 were up by 13%, numbers going to Otago Polytechnic rose by 14 %, and the University of Otago attracted 5% more than in 2016.

The survey showed 125,392 international students studying in New Zealand in 2017, down 5% on 2016. However, Otago regional figures were up by 7%, the second largest increase in New Zealand after Waikato. Dunedin attracted 4,328 in 2017, up by 6% on the previous year.

Mr Christie says “The new research shows that the international education sector supported 2,214 Dunedin jobs over 2017/18. We are an education city, so the effect of increasing international student numbers is more apparent.”

For the first time, Education New Zealand’s statistics include Tourism New Zealand’s figures regarding the spending impact of friends and relations coming to visit international students studying here, coming in at $6m for Dunedin and $460m nationwide.

“This adds another layer to the international student story. We know there are social cultural and economic impacts, now we can see the tourism layer, too. China and the US are our biggest international student markets. Chinese students attend our institutions across the board. American students are mostly on an exchange through the University.”

Mr Christie says Dunedin has varied initiatives to help develop the connections between local businesses and international students.

“We are working quite hard on the pathways between study and work, especially in the start-up community. There is a need to think and work globally. The talent from the international student pool is increasingly vital in this area.

“For four years Enterprise Dunedin has partnered with Otago Polytechnic and the University of Otago in the Work Ready Programme which supports international students who want to stay here and work. We concentrate on students that fit skill shortages. Over 60 international students from that course are now working within New Zealand and most remained in Dunedin.”

Dunedin’s international students can also take part in the Sexy Summer Jobs intern programme and the Audacious competition (a partnership between Otago Polytechnic, the University of Otago, and Enterprise Dunedin where students with start-up businesses they would like to see come to fruition spend time working with a mentor).

The Education New Zealand statistics methodology for ascertaining the 2017/2018 figures has altered in some areas to make the results more transparent and accurate. There has also been a shift in focus, within Otago and at Government level, from volume to value (e.g. initiatives to encourage higher value courses are being taken up, by different sorts of students). This move is reflected by the 2% increase in nation-wide revenue over 2017, despite a 5% drop in numbers.

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