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After four years of falling student numbers, the University of Otago is expecting a modest increase next year.
In a report tabled at yesterday's council meeting, director of planning and funding David Thomson said it expected 18,770 equivalent full-time students (Efts) to enrol next year, an increase of 1% on this year.
This comes after four years of falling numbers, with 18,586 Efts reported this year, down more than 5% on when numbers peaked in 2010.
Mr Thomson said in the report that it remained a ''difficult time to forecast'' student numbers and there were potential risks.
''Global uncertainty remains a significant factor, and the extent to which factors such as declining school leaver numbers, a more buoyant job market and tougher university entrance standards will continue to impact on enrolments is difficult to call with great confidence,'' he said.
However, there were reasons why the university was predicting a small increase in numbers, including the ''pipeline'' effect of growth in first-year numbers in the last three years.