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More international students on way

Hawke’s Bay is on track to ramp up its international student enrolments, as increasing numbers of international education agents arrive to personally check out the region.

It is estimated that ground work being done now will bring another 300-plus students into the region over a year, taking the total to about 1600 spread over 12 schools and six tertiary institutions across Hastings and Napier.

It is estimated that each student spends between $25,000 and $30,000 a year, including school fees, homestay payments, and general purchases. It is common for the family of students to visit their youngster at least once while they study, adding a tourism element to the equation.

But the benefits are not only economic, says Education Hawke’s Bay business development manager Stephanie Kennard, who is based at Hastings District Council.

“Having international students in our classrooms enriches the lives of our students.  Studying alongside a child from, say, China, Taiwan, Germany or Brazil, enhances our social and cultural understanding; it enriches our children’s experience at school.”

Figures from the first quarter of this year indicate the goal should be achieved. Study visas noting Hawke’s Bay as the destination were up by 26 per cent in the quarter ended March 2016 compared to the same three months the year before.

Part of the process is “selling” the region, and education agents were in Hastings and Napier two weeks ago to see what was on offer for students from the countries they represented: China, Thailand, Spain and Brazil.

The group were had morning tea with Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule after a formal greeting, then then toured several schools and institutions across Hawke’s Bay, including Lindisfarne College, Iona College, Woodford House and Hereworth School. They also sampled some of the region’s tourism highlights including a trip up Te Mata Peak.

The agents were first met at International Student Agent Expo in Melbourne in April where they expressed an interest in Hawke’s Bay; particularly local tourist activities, hospitality and culture, as well as the schools and tertiary institutions.

Ms Kennard says bringing all the schools able to host international students together to market their services overseas is very cost effective.
“It means that at events such as educational expos or when we are hosting agents, we can offer the various benefits that our institutions offer. They are quite different, and actually they work very well together.”

The bigger picture

Education Hawke’s Bay is funded by tertiary institutions and schools across the region and comes under the aegis of Education NZ. Teaching establishments can become members of Education Hawke’s Bay if they are signatories to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students. 

The push is part of a drive by Education NZ to increase the international student numbers nationally. It is assessed that the students spend about $3 billion a year in New Zealand. The aim is to take that up to $5b, and the regions are expected to be a big part of that.

Education NZ business development general manager Clive Jones told Radio New Zealand in May that the national organisation was keen to see the regions to take up the challenge. Auckland has 62 per cent of the international student market, to be expected given its size and educational opportunities.

Ms Kennard said the regions have unique offerings that strongly appeal to parents of students; particularly those wishing to have their students study in a safe city, experience the local culture and practice their English as New Zealand schools and institutions do not tend to have large groups from one country or culture. 

4 October 2017

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