Summer school boosts Dunedin's economy

The University of Otago summer school is in good heart and director Dr Elaine Webster is ''very pleased'' with how the latest school is progressing.

The 13th school starts on January 7, and a few places are still available for students in a range of papers, including human nutrition.

After operating initially on a trial basis, the school had long since established itself as an important national institution, school organisers said.

The summer education programme also helped boost the Dunedin economy during a traditionally quiet time of the year, by encouraging more students to stay in the city and encouraging others to arrive, including from overseas.

Next month it is offering 76 papers, up from 74 last year, and including 12 papers being taught at the school for the first time.

A total of 2442 initial student enrolments had been made, slightly behind about 2500 at the same stage last year, but the latest figures appeared more stable, with fewer fluctuations, Dr Webster said.

Through the summer school, students can gain credit for courses with six weeks of study, instead of about 13 weeks usually required to complete equivalent papers during the main university study year.

And the school is also accepting ''interest only'' students again this year, subject to some conditions.

Dr Webster said students and teaching staff came from throughout the country and abroad for ''an intense and unique experience''.

The school was also continuing to break new ground, offering a disabilities studies introductory paper for the first time, taught by Dr Gill Rutherford, a senior lecturer in the university College of Education.

And a new third-year paper on ''theology, money and markets'' offered ''new perspectives on how and why markets operate, how wealth is created and distributed'', the teaching to be partly undertaken by Prof Andrew Bradstock, director of the university's Centre for Theology and Public Issues.

A forensic biology paper, taught by Prof Jules Kieser and others, had attracted about 150 enrolments.

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