Push to attract overseas students

The Dunedin City Council has employed a person to help attract international students to the city to study.

Sarah Gauthier will start work today. Her position is funded through the Dunedin Economic Development Strategy project budget, which is funded by the council's Grow Dunedin partnership, Otago University, Otago Polytechnic, Otago Chamber of Commerce, Ngai Tahu and the Otago Southland Employers' Association.

Grow Dunedin partnership chairman deputy mayor Chris Staynes said the specialist role had been created to achieve one of the aims of the city's Economic Development Strategy: to position the city as New Zealand's premier destination for international students.

The strategy's overall goal is to create 10,000 extra jobs in Dunedin and increase Dunedin people's incomes by an average of $10,000 in the next 10 years.

Cr Staynes said Ms Gauthier, who was most recently the international market manager (Southeast Asia) at Education New Zealand in Wellington and had extensive work experience in the international education sector, would be charged with implementing the group's Export Education Strategy, developed last year.

Her role would also involve supporting local education businesses and providers and leveraging export education to attract and retain talent in the city.

She would work closely with tertiary institutions, schools and private-sector education providers.

Cr Staynes said the role recognised the importance of Dunedin's education sector. Having someone totally focused on this area would add greatly to the city's efforts to promote Dunedin's strong knowledge base, he said.

Ms Gauthier said international education was a critical part of Dunedin's and New Zealand's economy, and she looked forward to her new role in Dunedin.

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker said he was ''thrilled'' to see the job starting after months of careful planning.

''I look forward to seeing the Dunedin community getting in behind the strategy and really welcoming and supporting the international students who come to study here.''

He also looked forward to employers helping out with lots more work experience and internship opportunities.

''These will really make a difference to the success of the project.''

University of Otago pro-vice chancellor Prof Helen Nicholson said the university was looking forward to working with Ms Gauthier.

-debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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