The number of international students studying in Otago
has dropped 5%, making it among the worst-performing regions in
Dunedin City Council export education co-ordinator Sarah
Gauthier said part of the reason for the decline, amid an
increase of 8% nationally, was because Dunedin had previously
failed to market itself as a ''distinctive'' proposition to
The drop comes after the launch of a plan, which forms part
of the council's economic development strategy, aiming to
increase the value international education brings to
Dunedin's economy to $330 million a year by 2023, or double
its present figure.
Education New Zealand figures released this week showed 3738
international students were enrolled in Otago in the
January-April period, down from 3929 in the corresponding
period last year.
This made Otago the third-worst-performing region, equal with
Northland, with only Marlborough (-12%) and Hawkes Bay (-6%)
A 20% decline in the number of secondary school pupils (from
551 to 442) was the major reason for the overall drop in
Ms Gauthier, who was appointed to her role this year, was
keen to see the positive side, saying the national increase
would eventually ''trickle down'' to Otago.
Part of the reason Otago was lagging behind most other
regions was because of Dunedin's failure to sell itself as a
''distinctive brand'', she said.
However, this was changing, with Ms Gauthier and Dunedin
educational institutions hard at work on ''project export
As part of the project, a ''Study Dunedin'' brand would be
launched in November, she said.
''We just need to find that voice for Dunedin, within the
broader story of New Zealand as a study destination.''
She was reluctant to be critical of the council's previous
efforts regarding international education, saying ''people
just didn't know'' about the importance of attracting
A 33% increase in the number of international students
studying in Southland over the same period was likely in part
because of the work Venture Southland had done to sell the
Otago Girls' High School principal Linda Miller said the
''Study Dunedin'' brand would make a ''huge difference''.
Dunedin had been ''in the shadow'' of other regions, because
there had been a marketing push elsewhere and no overarching
However, there was a growing realisation schools needed to
sell the region first and the individual school second.