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China Daily Website

Foreign student numbers fall after NZ quakes

Updated: 2012-03-28 13:54
( Xinhua)

WELLINGTON - The number of foreign students attending schools and universities in New Zealand's earthquake- battered city of Christchurch this year is down by more than a third from last year, according to the government.

The earthquakes "had a big impact" on the number of international students, with a 37-percent drop in 2011,  Steven Joyce,minister for tertiary education, skills and employment said in a statement.

The statement, which cited the Ministry of Education as the source, did not give the exact number of international students for either year.

Joyce said the results were not unexpected.

"The earthquakes in Canterbury have severely impacted the number of people from overseas wishing to study in Christchurch," Joyce said.

"Christchurch is normally New Zealand's second largest center for international education and the government is committed to supporting the city's schools, universities, polytechs and private training establishments in attracting more overseas students," he said.

"Education New Zealand, the lead government agency for international education, has been working closely with key stakeholders to help the Christchurch market recover, and I will be talking to the sector about those plans tomorrow," he added.

Despite a drop in Canterbury, the latest data showed international student numbers across the rest of New Zealand increased by 6 percent and income from tuition rose by 3.3 percent, although the statement gave no exact figures.

In addition, student numbers from "key regions," including China, India and Saudi Arabia, also rose, it said.

"The results show that despite the downturn in student numbers in Christchurch, the rising value of the dollar, and stiff international competition, the international education industry remains in good shape to double its economic contribution to New Zealand to 5 billion NZ dollars ($4.09 billion) by 2025," Joyce said.

Industry experts told Xinhua in January that about 12,000 international students, including short-term students who did not require student visas, studied in Christchurch in an average year.

On February 22 last year, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake killed 185 people in Christchurch.

More than a third of those who died were foreign students, including 64 Asian students killed when the building housing the King's education language school collapsed and burned.