International fees rise 2.5%

Helen Nicholson.
Helen Nicholson.
The University of Otago is raising international fees by a more ''modest'' amount than usual, amid concern about declining enrolments.

The university council yesterday voted to increase international fees by about 2.5% for most courses.

Declining international enrolments have continued to hit the university in the pocket, with a $2.873 million shortfall in international tuition fees this year.

International student numbers at the end of May indicated a 4.6% decline on last year, against a forecast for a 2.6% increase.

University of Otago international pro-vice-chancellor Prof Helen Nicholson said several factors - especially the high New Zealand dollar - were making it difficult for the university.

''Anecdotal evidence suggests that the overall perception of New Zealand's reputation as an affordable study destination is suffering and this has been exacerbated by the New Zealand dollar moving closer to parity with the Australian dollar.''

The university had also suffered because of the end of overseas government sponsored programmes in the health sciences and a decline in commencing students from New Zealand secondary schools.

Given this environment, she recommended a more modest increase than last year, when the university increased international fees in most courses by 5% for undergraduate students and 4% for postgraduate students.

It was unclear whether there would be an increase in numbers next year.

''A more positive national picture is beginning to emerge for 2014 but it is not clear at this stage whether this will significantly contribute to increased international enrolments at Otago in 2015.''

Vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne was keen to point out that attracting international students was ''much more'' than just about income.

International students brought ''cultural diversity'' and the university was focused on giving them the best experience possible.

The fee increase comes as the Dunedin City Council and the city's education sector are working towards the goal of doubling the value international education brings to the Dunedin's economy to $330 million a year by 2023.

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