Student enrolments down

Student numbers at the University of Otago have taken another hit, with total enrolments for the year now expected to be 1.9% down on last year.

The latest prediction of student numbers is outlined in the University of Otago's 2012 forecast, which was tabled at the university council meeting yesterday.

The forecast predicted a total of 18,981 equivalent full-time student (EFTS) enrolments this year, down 1.9% on the 19,344 enrolled last year and lower than its previous forecast of 19,159 enrolments.

Financial services director Grant McKenzie said in the forecast given the late stage in the year the final number of enrolments would likely be only a few EFTS from the forecast.

The key factors driving down domestic student numbers were a smaller commencing cohort last year and the "one-off impact" which came with a tougher academic progress policy taking effect, he said.

The proposed budget for 2013 predicts the enrolments environment will stay flat next year, with a slight increase in domestic full-time students from 17,426 EFTS forecast this year to 17,638 next year.

Full-fee paying international EFTS are forecast to fall for the second consecutive year from 1555 predicted this year to 1487 next year.

At yesterday's council meeting, vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne and chancellor John Ward, both brought up positive interest in residential colleges as a reason to be hopeful that domestic student numbers would improve next year. Mr Ward also said there would be a positive flow-on effect from higher first-year numbers this year.

The forecast also predicted an operating surplus of $13.541 million, which would mean the university had failed to meet the Tertiary Education Commission's (TEC) targets for a 3% return on revenue and a 1.2% return on equity. The predicted surplus equated to a 2.3% return on revenue and a 1.1% return on equity.

Mr McKenzie said at yesterday's council meeting the failure to meet the TEC guideline for return on revenue was partly because of the academic division's use of previous savings, called "carry-forwards".


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