Opinion Leaders Education’s Learning Curve

Last year was challenge for the export education industry in New Zealand, as it was in many other parts of the world. combination of the SARS virus and other international events meant not only were travel and study opportunities altered and truncated, but prospective students were also unsure about the economic repercussions for them.
The strong local economy, and in particular the strong New Zealand dollar, was also factor. Fortunately, New Zealand concentrates on value for money rather than cheap pricing as key component of our attraction. Still, the rising dollar has had an impact on students.
The number of Chinese students in New Zealand captured some attention in 2003. Our strong growth from this market had number of ramifications. Student pathways, the diversity of students, financial risk and market dependency all caused institutions and students to take stock of the China market.
The increase in student numbers over the past few years had fuelled surge in capacity, and this caused some difficulty in the industry when numbers plateaued. In addition, strong competition from other countries gave Chinese students more study options.
We should also not ignore the impact of high profile institutional business failures during the year. Luckily, the students at these institutions were protected from the effects of these failures – testament to the strength and effectiveness of protection mechanisms and the way that both industry and the Government were prepared to ensure minimal disruption. However, there is no doubt these business failures had an impact on market confidence in China. We are now working to ensure both the Chinese government and students understand the robustness of our quality standards.
While student numbers from China caused angst in 2003, full analysis will have to wait until more detailed statistics are available.
For example, it is not yet clear to what extent the anecdotal reports of considerably lower numbers of Chinese students at language schools are due to lower numbers coming here, or more thinly spread distribution due to greater capacity.
Figures available for the schools sector last year show that whilst their numbers of Chinese students were less than in 2002, the decline was less than three percent, and this was more than offset by rises in demand from other countries.
China is an important market for our institutions, but it is by no means the only one. All institutions in the education export industry are very aware of the educational, social and business benefits that come from diverse range of international students.
Student numbers from Korea and Japan (both of which are large markets for New Zealand) were particularly pleasing last year.
Also encouraging is the growing response from students in countries outside Asia, who increasingly see the benefits we offer.
Many educational institutions have already developed sound markets in countries as diverse as Brazil, the United States, Russia, Germany and Switzerland.

Outlook for 2004
We do not expect the high growth rates we experienced from 1998 to 2002 to continue or resume in 2004, but we do expect solid performance.
New Zealand has not been alone in experiencing pause in growth – the English language sector in Australia also posted decline in numbers during 2003 and other countries are also facing difficult conditions.
Many of our institutions have been expecting the tighter market, and have put strategies in place to respond to it, ranging from market diversification to offering different courses. New Zealand is fortunate that it has wide range of proven, credible and very attractive educational opportunities for students.
Many students also appreciate that whilst New Zealand may be long way from home, it is also long way away from many of the problems in the world.
We expect 2004 to be year of consolidation and development. This will occur as the industry adjusts to the realities and opportunities of the international education market which has transformed itself over the past few years.

Robert Stevens is the chief executive of Education New Zealand which promotes New Zealand as destination for foreign fee-paying students.

Visited 2 times, 1 visit(s) today

Business benefits of privacy

Privacy Week (13-17 May) is a great time to consider the importance of privacy and to help ensure you and your company have good privacy practices in place, writes Privacy

Read More »
Close Search Window