Market Analysis: New Zealand
Market Analysis
International students are choosing to study English in New Zealand in ever-growing numbers, says Gillian Evans.

Bolstered by its strong reputation as a peaceful and safe English language destination, New Zealand has experienced dynamic growth in demand for English language teaching provision. According to English New Zealand, international student numbers among their members skyrocketed by 21 per cent in 2016. "2016 was a good year for us and our numbers were strong," confirms Kim Lawry at Coromandel Outdoor Language Centre



Breeze Robertson from Ara Institute of Canterbury, says their English language numbers soared by 23 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015. She puts their shining performance down to the "introduction of an excellent new programme, New Zealand Certificate in English Language (NZCEL), which if successfully completed gives direct entry to our bachelor and diploma programmes".


Another regulatory change that has boosted the market is the Pathway Visa Pilot Scheme, which was introduced in 2015, initially for 18 months but which has recently been extended until June 2018. It allows international students to undertake up to three consecutive pathway programmes of study with selected education providers. Miles Stewart at New Zealand Language Centres in Auckland puts their positive growth in 2016 down to the scheme, and for Rotorua English Language Academy (RELA), Principal Chris Leckie says the scheme boosted their younger student numbers in particular. "[Students] come to RELA for three-to-six months, working in our General English with high school preparation programme for some of the time, then move on to high schools."



Despite the overall favourable performance of the market, a closer look by individual student nationality reveals some fluctuations in 2016, which did suppress student numbers for some schools. At Languages International, for example, Darren Conway recounts, "Overall, we had only a small increase in 2016 over 2015, but that's because a massive drop from Saudi Arabia [because of the scaling back of the scholarship programme] and to a lesser extent Russia [because of the fall in the rouble] more or less offset good or very strong gains elsewhere - Switzerland, Thailand, Brazil all up seven-to-10 per cent; China, Japan and Korea all up over 40 per cent. North Asia was particularly pleasing, as Korea had been softening for years, while it was our best year from China in more than a decade."



Based on anecdotal evidence, it would appear that 2017 has been a mixed bag in terms of performance for English language schools in New Zealand. Kim says, "This year has been a different story [from 2016] and our numbers were very low in the winter just finishing [2017]." In contrast at Language Schools New Zealand - Queenstown, Bruna Ecke reports, "At the end of September we'd reached 326 bookings [compared with] 319 in 2016 and 3,294 weeks, compared with 2,840 in 2016."


For most education providers the key to success is to keep their courses fresh and in tune with demand. For example, Taupo Language has launched a pre-secondary course that includes mathematics and science tuition. Mary-Rose Blackley at the school explains, "Students do not lose a year or go back a year when they commence secondary school."



But there have been some challenges for providers. "Unfavourable currency has been back in play as a factor [in market performance] - not so much that the NZ dollar has been strong, but that the pound sterling and the Australian dollar have both been relatively weak, so our pricing looks less competitive," explains Darren. "Discounting also continues to be a scourge: we've been around a long time, have a long-term view, and can continue to ride it out, but cut-throat discounting and lax regulations anywhere in the world undermine the long-term market for everyone."


Wayne Dyer from English New Zealand says.
"2016 saw 20 per cent growth for English NZ member schools. Growth in Q1 of 2017 has been slower, at seven per cent compared to the same period in 2016, but our strategic target remains 15 per cent. Japan remains our number one source country followed by China, Korea and Brazil. Weeks from Colombia decreased after significant growth in 2014 - 2015 which followed the introduction of work rights. Saudi Arabia has continued to decline."



Thank you to the following school for taking part in this survey: Ara Institute of Canterbury,; Auckland Institute of Studies,; Kiwi English Academy,; Language Schools New Zealand,; Languages International,; Mount Maunganui Language Centre,;  New Zealand Language Centres,; Rotorua English Language Academy,;  Taupo Language,
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