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Growth in school leavers, enrolments back to pre lockdown levels

A boost in the number of students gaining University Entrance in 2021 has translated to increased numbers of school leavers heading to the University of Waikato in 2022.

After an unusually high number of enrolments last year, attributed to a changing job market and limited opportunities for overseas travel, enrolment patterns at universities around Aotearoa New Zealand have returned to pre lockdown levels.

“Domestic student numbers have fallen back from the enrolment boom of last year, but are well in advance of 2020 enrolments,” says University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley.

“School leaver enrolments have grown but the strong job market is discouraging non-school leavers from leaving work to enter tertiary study.”

The growth in school leavers comes from students across the nation. “We’re seeing undergraduates from Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Wellington and around the South Island, as well as our home regions of Waikato and Bay of Plenty. We’re also proud to see good increases in our Māori and Pacific students compared with 2020.”

“Our Pacific student cohort is up 12% on the same time in 2020, and our Māori student population has risen by 9.8% on 2020. Māori and Pacific students now make up 33% of the University of Waikato domestic student community,” Professor Quigley says, “still the highest proportion of all New Zealand universities.”

The University’s Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies is one of the fastest growing departments, reflecting the growing demand in society to learn Māori and Indigenous Studies. Celebrating 30 years last year, Te Tohu Paetahi, the total immersion Māori language programme, has seen continual growth since it was established, supporting more than 1600 students on their te reo Māori journey since its inception.

While campus life is slowly returning to normal, responding to a changing Covid environment is still very much a part of class and course planning.

“Our staff are working hard to ensure students can continue with their learning both in and outside of the classroom. While being flexible to everyone’s personal circumstances is key, we also know the campus experience is an important part of student life,” says Professor Quigley.

“Student health and safety is paramount, and I have been impressed by student compliance with our protocols. Our accommodation, student services and health and safety teams have also been working incredibly hard to minimise the disruption and spread of cases around our campuses.

“It is wonderful to see so many students on campus. For many, it’s their first time away from home and the value for them to make new friends and to get to grips with their papers in the classroom, lab or lecture theatre can’t be underestimated.”

He says the first day of A Trimester last week saw 1700 in-person visits to the library, and staff are delighted to see a buzz about the campus again.

University of Waikato 2022 enrolments:

  • Total domestic EFTS: 7985
  • Hamilton EFTS: 5833
  • Tauranga EFTS: 844
  • Māori EFTS: 2107
  • Pacific EFTS: 715 
  • International EFTS (on-shore): 239

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