Auckland Students Lured South With $5000 Grants And Sport Trips

Publish Date
Wednesday, 23 September 2015, 7:07AM
Canterbury University student Jordan Griffiths says moving far away from home has allowed him to become immersed in university life. Photo / Jordan Griffiths

Canterbury University student Jordan Griffiths says moving far away from home has allowed him to become immersed in university life. Photo / Jordan Griffiths

Auckland's best and brightest are being schmoozed with $5000 sweeteners, rugby tickets and ski trips in a bid to boost university student numbers in earthquake-affected Christchurch.

The University of Canterbury (UC) wants to poach more than 100 top Auckland high school graduates for its 2016 intake, marketing the move as "assisting Auckland's housing crisis".

"We're not just being cheeky," said UC Vice-Chancellor Rod Carr. "It's fact that some students in Auckland travel 90 minutes or more to tertiary study from flats they can afford. In Canterbury, 90 minutes gets you to a ski field ..."

Student numbers at the Canterbury campus dropped to a five-year low in 2014, but despite the difficulties the university had climbed 31 places to 211 in the latest QS rankings, behind Auckland at 82 and Otago at 173.

The university has put together a package that includes a $5000 accommodation grant, first aid training, a winter road trip, and a free ticket to a Tactix netball or Crusaders rugby game for potential students.

Applicants need a minimum merit grade in NCEA Level 2, and to take up residence in the "Retro" University Hall. They may also be eligible for other UC scholarships; about 40 per cent of this year's intake received funding towards their study.

Dr Carr said the university traditionally took about 200 students from Auckland, but was hoping to increase that. Research had found the main barrier to moving south was financial, prompting the scholarship.

Asked if the plan could be seen as poaching from the Auckland market, Dr Carr said: "We're not stealing as that would imply property rights, and we don't have those over students. It's an opportunity."

Auckland University Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon said it had actively supported the southern university in its recovery from the earthquakes and fully understood why it would want to attract students from Auckland.

"However, having constructed over 1100 beds in our halls of residence over the last four years we are well positioned to accommodate our students and with over $20 million in scholarships annually, we are able to support financially a great many top students," he said.

Universities New Zealand director Chris Whelan said UC wasn't doing anything its competitors hadn't already thought of. "At the same time every other university is actively advertising in the Canterbury region," Mr Whelan said. "Canterbury is doing what it has to do to attract students."

Previously, Otago University had offered free flights for PhD students, and guaranteed access for the dux from each school, while the Southern Institute of Technology had zero fees.

University of Canterbury

• $5000 accommodation grant towards costs with UCA Student Village
• Summer camping trip with a focus on team building and leadership development
• Winter road trip that includes a three-day, two-night stay at a selected South Island ski field
• Orienteering challenge offering tramping over the varied terrain of the South Island
• One free ticket to a Tactix netball or Crusaders rugby game

NZ Herald