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Enrolment stats herald a strong start to 2018

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Otago's student roll is set to increase by about 300 full-time equivalent students, compared to last year.

It has been a positive start to the academic year with University of Otago enrolment figures up across the board.

The student roll is set to increase by about 300 full-time equivalent students, compared to 2017.

Growth has been strong in both domestic first-year and international first-year enrolments, undergraduate, and postgraduate enrolments. Particular strength has been shown in Māori and Pacific enrolments.

"At this rate it is likely that Māori enrolments will exceed 2,000 students at Otago for the first time this year, and we will have close to 1,000 Pacific students here as well."

“I want to highlight some particularly exciting news: firstly, this is shaping up to be the first year since 2010 that we are going to see overall growth in the Humanities; secondly, we have now achieved over a decade of uninterrupted year-on-year growth in both Māori and Pacific enrolments at Otago,” Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says.

“At this rate it is likely that Māori enrolments will exceed 2,000 students at Otago for the first time this year, and we will have close to 1,000 Pacific students here as well.

“It is also worth noting that – despite having well over 100 additional beds available to first year students compared to 2017 - the University’s Residential Colleges have started this year absolutely full.”

First-year domestic enrolments are up by over 200 equivalent full-time students. The growth is particularly strong in the Sciences and Humanities, with both divisions also on track for an overall rise. Health Sciences has also secured both first-year and overall growth.

Overall, international enrolments are currently up by around 80 EFTS, with Commerce in particular securing strong international growth at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Growth this year has been accompanied by a further increase in the academic calibre of the University’s commencing cohort, as measured by the performance of Otago’s first-year students at school.

"Normally I do not make a statement on enrolments until early April, but the trends we are seeing this year are so consistent that I am able to comment now."

“Obviously this is a very positive picture overall for the University. Normally I do not make a statement on enrolments until early April, but the trends we are seeing this year are so consistent that I am able to comment now,” Professor Hayne says.

While there has been much interest in the impact – or otherwise – of fees free on enrolments, that is not something the University is able to comment on definitively until the enrolment situation has further settled here, and a broader picture of enrolments across the sector has emerged.

“At this stage, our best reading of the situation is that additional Government funding support for students – which comprise not only fees-free but also increases to student allowances and student loans – has contributed to our growth, but that it has not been the major contributor.

“Other factors such as the availability of additional places in our residential colleges and the general liveability and affordability of Dunedin for students have been more important contributors to the positive 2018 enrolment situation,” Professor Hayne says.

Enrolment stats summary:

  • The University currently has enrolments totalling 17,405 EFTS. This is 322 EFTS more than the same time last year.
  • Overall growth in Health Sciences (197 EFTS), Humanities (81 EFTS) and Sciences (116 EFTS) has been offset by a decline in Commerce (72 EFTS).
  • First-year domestic enrolments are up 218 EFTS. This has been of particular benefit to the Sciences and Humanities, both of which have first year growth of over 10 per cent on 2017.
  • As well as undergraduate enrolment growth, postgraduate enrolments are up 116 EFTS.
  • Māori enrolments are currently up by 189 students, and Pacific enrolments are up by 45 students.
  • International full-fee enrolments are up 81 EFTS, mainly due to undergraduate growth in Commerce and Health Sciences.
  • The University expects to gain around 1,100 further EFTS between now and the end of the year, most through semester two enrolments.