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Bible College of New Zealand Current enrollments are holding steady although they were well down on those of the early 2000’s. Figures have declined in the past two years because of a drop in the number of international students.

The college expects 650 equivalent full time students this year at its national campus in West Auckland, nine regional centers, and distance learning center – the same as last year.

National academic registrar Derek Martin said enrollments peaked in 2003 with 850 equivalent full time students, but latest figures are higher than the late 1990’s. The college’s international student also hit a high in 2003.

“With numbers holding steady, given the tertiary industry market this year and last year I think we have satisfactory numbers. What we are looking at is a good, viable number of students.

“We believe that we will hold our numbers steady and slowly increase quality enrollments. There is a careful strategy to offer excellence with our academic programmes and we believe this can only can increase our student number,” Mr Martin said.

National Principal Dr Mark Strom said the loss of international numbers since 2003 was typical for most institutions for this period. “The main place we experienced a drop in numbers was in our English language school,” Dr Strom said.

Mr Martin said the loss was caused by the value of the NZ dollar doubling since 2001. That substantially affected the affordability of an international student choosing a country for their tertiary studies or theological education. In New Zealand the cost of study had been more attractive to overseas students.

Dr Strom added that immigration policies were inconsistent, and that discouraged students from coming. The college had lost English language school students because the poor performance of some other English language schools had discredited all providers.

A New Zealand Qualifications Authority audit report showed the college did not meet 10 requirements of the code of practice for the pastoral care of international students, but Mr Strom said the audit was conducted in 2005 so it had no bearing on student enrollments on previous years.

“Most of the areas where the audit found we had fallen short of the code of practice affected one of our regional Centers, not the Auckland Campus. In addition the non-compliance’s were in the area of records and not in the care of the students themselves.”

He said these were minor issues, “which were corrected either by the end of the audit or shortly afterwards”.  The College was unaware of any diminishing reputation from these findings or any other.

“While we have scaled back our English language school, we continue to enjoy the trust of many international students and their sending churches and nations.”

The college had supported 13 Romanian students during 2003 and 2004 “and a strong relationship is still maintained with many of them”.

Mr Martin said that as well as the surge of international students between 2001 and 2003, the overall increase of student numbers since the 1990’s was due to the college’s marketing strategy, and offering more diverse programmes. The college’s revamped website had attracted students.

The college had an increased presence at events in New Zealand such as the Parachute Music Festival, and at employment expos, which had heightened its profile.

Mr Martin said the introduction of post-graduate programmes and a variety of employment options once students had left college attracted more students.

[First published in Challenge Weekly, 2006]

[Bible College New Zealand has since become Laidlaw College]

[Mark Strom pictured]

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