Agency aims to keep overseas pupils in region

An agency that promotes international education in Otago is working out how high school pupils from overseas can be encouraged to stay in the region to take up tertiary study.

Study Dunedin could adopt a target to get 25% of Otago’s international pupils to pursue tertiary education within the region from 2022.

That would shift the baseline from about 20%.

Study Dunedin Advisory Group chairwoman Linda Miller said some international pupils studied in Dunedin but then attended university elsewhere.

That was sometimes influenced by university rankings.

Making a greater effort to introduce international pupils to Otago tertiary campuses was one possible counter, she said.

Study Dunedin commissioned a report that considered the barriers which prevented international pupils from staying in Dunedin longer.

People who were interviewed for the report highlighted problems with accommodation, inadequate public transport and that they were not used to shops closing as early as 5pm or 5.30pm.

They also commented their hosts were supportive, relaxed and friendly.

Among the report’s suggestions were on-campus summer and school holiday programmes, which could help with relationship-building.

Ms Miller told the Dunedin City Council’s economic development committee yesterday the Covid-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the international education sector.

Homestay secondary school pupil numbers in the city had plunged from about 600 to 118.

Study Dunedin had worked hard to support pupils and students who had remained in the region, she said.

They were excited about experiencing a New Zealand Christmas, she said.

The report supported a strategy of attracting "the right" pupils.

Some pupils were not suited to being away from home, and Ms Miller said this was sometimes evident before they arrived.

Asked how the council could help the sector, Ms Miller suggested swimming pool vouchers and free bus travel.


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