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Korean, Saudi students on the rise in NZ

Nov 3rd, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

Fahad (left) and Haitham (right)

HOME-STAYS are losing favour with two groups of international students showing the steadiest growth in New Zealand – Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

Statistics show numbers of Saudi Arabian and South Korean students in English language schools increased again this year, but spending on home-stay accommodation dropped significantly.

Fahad Al-Balwi (above left) and Haitham Al-Kuwaykibi (above right) are among the growing numbers of Saudis studying here.

While they preferred to stay at a home-stay initially, now they are established they prefer the flexibility of their own apartment, particularly for cultural reasons.

“We were trying to find a home-stay here in Wellington but were surprised by the prices, and the home-stays were far away from the city,” says Fahad.

“For a student who doesn’t speak much English, a home-stay is much better for them, but I don’t like staying there because I can’t invite my friends,” says Fahad.

A recent market report by Education New Zealandidentifies Saudi Arabia as a significant market, and Korea as the second most important ‘depth market’ for international students.

The actual number of Korean and Saudi students rose this year by around 951 and 370 respectively, with yearly figures for both increasing by more than 2400 students over the last six years.

However, accommodation spending patterns changed last year.

Data provided by Statistics New Zealand

Data provided by Statistics New Zealand

Korean students each spent a total of $2623 less on home-stay accommodation last year – a drop of 38 percent. Saudi Arabian students spent $3123, down from $4618 last year – a 32 percent drop.

Fahad and Haitham say their cultural background may be hard for some of the home-stay hosts to relate to and although most home-stays are good, some don’t respect their culture.

“If you invite someone, you have to invite all your close friends to introduce them and you cook them a big feast. It’s about honouring your guest, and hospitality. It’s very important for us,” he says.

Data provided by Statistics New Zealand

Data provided by Statistics New Zealand

Fahad says he invited friends to his first home-stay, and when they got kicked out by the host he decided to move.

“The problem is some of them don’t care. They are just doing it for the money,” says Haitham.

General manager international for Whitireia Polytech, Paul Maguiness, says for Saudis the difference may be due to Muslim dietary requirements.

“They have to have halal, they can’t eat normal meat. People just aren’t prepared to cook a completely different meal for just one person in a household.”

Mr Maguiness says he doesn’t know why South Korean spending on accommodation fell so much but thinks it could be due to student ages.

“The majority of Korean students are in primary and high school, so they stay at home. If they are under 17 they legally have to stay at home with their parents.”

He also thinks that the older students prefer to live on their own.

“Korean students are much like any other students; they like to move out to apartments and flats.”

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  1. This is a good productive, positive commentary on an important aspect of Whitireia’s international marketing and both the Wellington and NZ international student recruitment industries. I represent Whitireia on the Board of Grow Wellington and have offered the consortium Whitireia’s journalism resource/expertise to write and publish such articles to build greater awareness of this industry within public communities.
    Greg Walton
    International Marketing Manager
    Whitireia New Zealand

  2. I am setting up student apartment accommodation with shared facilities for saudi students and would like to know if there are specific requirements they may have for their rooms or requirements in the kitchen/ laundry area apart from the basic requirements i.e. bed, study desk, fan, heating, wardrobe, lamp, internet connection.
    Your comments or a contact would be greatly appreciated.

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