NZ applications fall at polytech

First-year applications at Otago Polytechnic have dropped this year - despite a spike in international applications - but there is still more demand than there are places, communications director Mike Waddell says.

He said student applications were down on last year with 13% fewer domestic applications - 2825 compared with 3244 in the 2012 year.

However, despite a drop in applications first year enrolments were still on target and would not be down on last year, with the total of 3382 first-year applications exceeding the 2281 student places the polytechnic had budgeted for.

Those applications included 39% more international student applications - 557 compared with 400 last year, Mr Waddell said.

"We've got an early warning the tide might have turned after four very solid years [of growth] and we would want to address that but the positive thing is we've still got more applications than we have places.''  

The decline in domestic applications could be due to the potential domestic students being employed and given on-the-job training because of a skills shortage, he said.

About 180 of the international student applications were for the Auckland campus and the rest were for Dunedin, he said.

There was no cap on the number of international students who could enrol, although the polytechnic could impose a cap, he said.

''How much can you take that doesn't give you cultural overload? But we are nowhere near that position and we welcome all international students.''

Some courses were oversubscribed but several remained ''soft,'' Mr Waddell said.

Courses in the school of art, the school of architecture building, engineering and natural resources and the school of hospitality had places available, he said.

Certificates in stonemasonry, horticulture and cookery at the Central Otago campus were soft, he said.

The certificate in cookery at the Dunedin campus was performing well, he said. The soft courses of concern were being monitored.

''They will continue to run, unless numbers really did fall away, but we feel confident all the schools will meet their budgets.''

-shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz