Thu 31 Aug 2017

WITT Team is bound for India

A delegation will head from WITT to India and Nepal next week as the polytech seeks to reverse a downward trend in international student numbers.

WITT has 178 international students in study, including 122 from India. This time last year the totals were 213 and 173.

WITT chief executive Barbara George, who will lead the delegation, said international students were vital for WITT. Culturally they added to the weave of WITT’s fabric, brought in significant revenue to the Institute and the region, and added to vital skills shortages being experienced by our employers.

A report released late last year put the economic value of the international education industry at more than $4 billion.  

Tighter financial requirements demanded by Immigration New Zealand have been cited as a reason for a drop in international student numbers across the country – Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology this week revealed a 13.14% fall in numbers from this time last year, on a par with the 16% drop experienced at WITT.

Changes introduced this week will make it even harder for international students to seek post-study work visas in NZ.

Both National and Labour are advancing policies which would place more stringent qualification requirements on international students coming to New Zealand, and New Zealand First wants policies which will end the tertiary education sector’s “dependence on international students”.

Barbara George said international students had traditionally made up a small percentage of the WITT roll so the fall in numbers did not have the financial impact it might at other institutes.

However, there was no questioning the value, both culturally and financially, that came with them.

“We are going to India to promote our programmes to attract top students here, and continue building relationships with agents we have worked with for a long time,’’ she said.

The delegation will host functions for agents in Mumbai, Kathmandu and New Delhi.

“It is important for us to maintain the confidence of those agents, and I am conscious that it has been about six years since a chief executive from WITT visited them,’’ she added.

Students from India are predominately enrolling in engineering, cookery and highway technology courses.

WITT’s delegation will also be promoting graduate diploma courses.

Barbara George is familiar with India – she spent a year in the Faridabad in Haryana District in northern India.

Last year she made a similar trip to China to meet agents and discuss cooperative arrangements with education providers.

Earlier this month six international agents representing organisations in South America, the Philippines, Japan and India visited WITT.

Picture: Akhila George (left) and Johnson Jose, were among the WITT students who completed courses at ITT in 2016.