7 Apr 2017

Mixed start for university enrolments

5:46 pm on 7 April 2017

Most universities have reported little impact from a predicted fall in the number of school-leavers enrolling in tertiary education this year.

James Hight building at the University of Canterbury

Canterbury University had nearly 300 more domestic students than at the same time last year. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Education Ministry had forecast the drop which, combined with improving employment rates, was expected to cut about 5000 domestic enrolments from tertiary institutions this year.

Most polytechnics recently reported falling domestic enrolments to RNZ, but the picture for universities was more mixed.

Canterbury University had nearly 300 more domestic students than at the same time last year, while Auckland had about 100 more and Massey had about 250 fewer. Three other universities reported only minor changes in their domestic numbers to date and all six institutions had more foreign students than last year.

The director of student services at Canterbury, Lynn McClelland, said it had enrolled nearly 500 more students than at the same time last year.

"It looks as though we're up just over 4 percent overall and that includes an increase of around 3 percent in domestic students and 20 percent in full-fee students," she said.

The university was trying to rebuild enrolments, which fell from more than 15,000 to less than 12,000 following Canterbury's 2011 earthquake.

This year it was aiming to enrol nearly 13,000 students and Ms McClelland said the number of full-fee foreign students was almost back to pre-quake levels.

She said the city's recovery was helping with the improvement in enrolments.

"There's an element of housing affordability in the city, which has eased. The city itself is coming back into full recovery mode and is much more vibrant and dynamic than it perhaps has been for a number of years."

Massey University reported about 250 fewer domestic enrolments but nearly 300 more international enrolments.

The vice-chancellor, Jan Thomas, said the falling number of school-leavers was probably behind the drop in domestic students.

"It's a little early in the year to be sure about where our numbers will fall," she said.

"But I do know that there is a fairly flat domestic market here in New Zealand in terms of school-leaver numbers and that will be influencing the numbers coming on to universities including Massey."

Massey University reported about 250 fewer domestic enrolments but nearly 300 more international enrolments.

Massey University reported about 250 fewer domestic enrolments but nearly 300 more international enrolments. Photo: 123RF

At the University of Waikato, the director of marketing and recruitment, Simon Bush, said the expected fall in school-leaver enrolments had not happened.

"Our school leaver numbers are relatively strong. We were expecting it to be a tough year for school leavers this year, but we've managed to come through okay."

Mr Bush said it was possible that a greater proportion of school-leavers was choosing to enrol at the university.

Overall Waikato's enrolments were about the same as last year, with slightly fewer domestic students and slightly more internationals.

Lincoln and Victoria universities also reported slightly more students than at the same time last year and the University of Auckland said it had 537 more enrolments thanks to increases in both domestic and international student numbers.

Otago University and Auckland University of Technology refused to provide figures saying it was too early in the year.

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