Trades and film industry drive student enrolments


The Christchurch rebuild and upcoming New Zealand film projects appear to be on the minds of students with applications for trades courses, digital media and animation increasing as students flock back to the Southern Institute of Technology for another year.

SIT deputy chief executive corporate Bharat Guha said the most significant increases were in the Trades faculty with 462 applications compared to 361 last year.

“That’s a huge increase,” Guha said. Automotive and mechanical engineering numbers were up as was architectural engineering.

The government’s focus on science and technology, and the Christchurch rebuild, were clearly factors and student enrolment patterns were starting to reflect this direction, Guha said.

“Students are pretty savvy now. They want to study a career where they know they will get a job.”

In Christchurch, trades courses applications had increased from 171 to 237, with project management not surprisingly being popular as a result of the rebuild, he said.

The New Media, Arts and Business Faculty was also up with 768 applications compared to 734 last year, with digital media and animation showing significant increases. Guha said this could be because of SIT’s presence at the Armageddon Expo in Wellington last year. The announcement that director James Cameron would be making the next three Avatar films in New Zealand could also have influenced numbers, he said.

“People can see a lot of demand coming through.”

The Avatar deal in New Zealand commits the film’s makers to ensuring at least 90 per cent of the live action crew are New Zealanders.

On the flipside, enrolments in audio production, journalism, applied media and performing arts were down.

The Health, Humanities and Computing Faculty was sitting down at 700 applications compared to 739 last year, with several courses including environmental management, massage and sport and exercise slightly down on last year.

Enrolments for the distance learning SIT2LRN courses had also increased from 2041 last year to 2086 this year. In Queenstown, 84 applications had been received compared to 81 last year. Numbers were steady at the Gore campus with 73 applications this year, up one on 2014.

SIT’s fulltime equivalent international student numbers grew 18 per cent in 2014, from 550 to 656 and it was hoped this number would rise to about 780 this year. SIT is aiming to reach 1000 fulltime equivalent international students by 2017.

Students come from more than 30 countries, with the majority from China and India but also Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Germany, Russia, Mauritius, Argentina and others.

Guha said it was important to remember student numbers would not be finalised until this week when course numbers were verified as students arrived.

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