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September 1, 2008 | by  | in News |
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More international students coming to New Zealand, Vic confident on increase in enrolments

A reported increase in international students coming to New Zealand has been described as “a good sign” for Victoria University, but a VUWSA representative felt that universities needed to provide more funding for international students.

According to a survey of English Language Providers (ELPs), there were nearly 40,000 international students enrolled as of March this year, an increase of almost 2000 students compared to last year. International students also spent $7 million more in New Zealand – up to $242 million from $235 million the previous year.

While the survey did not cover university enrolments, Victoria University Pro Vice- Chancellor (International) Rob Rabel described the increase as “definitely a good sign,” noting that previous increases in international students entering the country had positively affected university enrolment levels of international students.

Rabel attributed declines in recent years to increased competition for international students, noting that attracting students is “much more challenging than it was four years ago.” He said that universities in the USA and Europe were trying harder to attract international undergraduates, while countries such as China, whose students initially made up “nearly half” of the international students in New Zealand, had started to expand their universities’ capacities for their own students.

Rabel was confident about the immediate future of international enrolments at Victoria, citing the weakening New Zealand dollar, the perception of New Zealand as a safe destination for young students, and a welldeveloped marketing strategy as factors that could boost international student enrolments.

He also noted New Zealand universities’ increased interaction with foreign governments and international agencies, such as a new scholarship set up by the Saudi Arabian government for students to study here. This was noticeable in the ELPs survey, with Saudi Arabian students providing the biggest increase in spending.

VUWSA International Officer William Wu, when asked about the increase in international students, said “I am a little surprised.”

Wu said that educational institutions needed to do more to help adjust students to the “culture shock” of changing to the New Zealand lifestyle, as well as providing more funding for international students and addressing the issue of discrimination.

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