Visa changes blamed for student shortfall

Changes to post-study work rights are to blame for a drop in international student numbers at Otago Polytechnic's Auckland campus, the polytechnic says.

Otago Polytechnic has three campuses - in Auckland, Cromwell and Dunedin.

Polytechnic global engagement director Marc Doesburg said the Dunedin campus was on target to meet budgeted numbers. It was only four equivalent full-time students (EFTs) short of what was expected.

The Cromwell campus was also slightly down, predicted to be seven EFTs fewer than expected this year.

However, Auckland was expected to experience a 20% drop, due to a very long processing time for new visas, and changes to one-year-only work rights in the city.

The shortfall was bound to have some financial impact but knowing what the drop was meant the polytechnic could plan ahead and mitigate the spending.

Deputy chief executive Philip Cullen said due to the fall in student numbers, the polytechnic would probably lose about $500,000, but Otago was still performing well.

The economy had low unemployment, which worked against polytechnics, but courses such as construction, trades and engineering were particularly popular.

The polytechnic was traditionally a high performer when it came to health care, especially midwifery.

Mr Doesburg said there were two main factors behind the drop: the change to one-year post-study work rights, and the long processing time.

Last year, the polytechnic said the Government's proposed post-study visa change package was misaligned with the national skills shortage list, and could cause the polytechnic to lose $4.3million.

The Government has introduced a one-year visa for people who complete non-degree qualifications at level 7 or below, if they study in Auckland - compared to two years around the rest of the country.

International students taking a Level 7 Bachelor's degree qualification or higher are entitled to a three-year open post-study visa.

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