02 February 2015

International students pour into Southland

The Southland Times

The international student market in Southland grew a record 20 per cent between January and August last year - contributing about $5 million additional income to the region.

Education New Zealand released its New Zealand International Education Snapshot: 2014 January–August Report last week which highlighted the Southland figure as one of its key trends.

The 20 per cent increase represents 179 additional international students studying at primary, secondary and tertiary level in the region. Last year it was estimated there were 1000 international students in Southland at any one time - contributing at least $20m to Southland’s economy annually.

International school students are estimated to contribute at least $25,000 each per year, while international students studying at the Southern Institute of Technology are estimated to contribute about $35,000 each per year. The figures are based on tuition fees plus accommodation and other living expenses.

Education Southland, a partnership between several high schools, SIT and Venture Southland, has helped increase the number of international students visiting the region by utilising a co-operative, non-competitive marketing model.

In 2013, Southland had an 8 per cent increase in international students studying, compared to 2012.

Venture Southland group manager tourism events and community Rex Capil said he was absolutely ecstatic with the latest figures which reflected a lot of hard work done both onshore and offshore in the past decade.

“That’s what’s coming home to bear fruit and that doesn’t happen overnight. That takes a long time.”

Creating and maintaining relationships with agents and institutions was critical as was the collective approach of Education Southland, which provided the critical mass and credibility to appeal to larger institutions. For example, a relationship with a school in Chiang Mai in Thailand, with 6000 students, would not be possible for Southland schools if they were individually trying to attract students, Capil said.

SIT deputy chief executive corporate Bharat Guha said everyone had been working very hard to market Southland, and specific overseas markets, particularly in Asia, were starting to understand the region offered quality qualifications at more affordable fees than universities. SIT’s fulltime equivalent international student numbers grew 18 per cent in 2014, from 550 to 656.

“The impact for Southland is a lot higher (than estimates) because a lot of international students are bringing their families and spouses.”

SIT was aiming to reach 1000 fulltime equivalent international students by 2017, Guha said.

Capil said his move to a new senior position at the Southland District Council, would create some transitional issues for Education Southland. He would be going on an overseas marketing trip in March, but it would be up to the schools collectively to decide on direction in the longer term.

Southland Girls’ High School principal Yvonne Browning said Education Southland was scheduled to meet and Capil’s role would be discussed. Her personal view was that maintaining his involvement would help keep sustain the momentum achieved to date.


International Student Trends in Southland - January - August 2014

Southland student number increase +20 per cent (179 students)

(New Zealand student number increase +12 per cent (10,093)

Southland institutes of technology and polytechnic numbers + 22 per cent

Southland primary school numbers + 27 per cent

Southland secondary school numbers + 12 per cent