College deal boosts edu-tourism


Queenstown Resort College is to offer pre-university courses which will boost student numbers and help the local economy.

The private tertiary institution and the University of Otago will sign an agreement to officially launch the programme tomorrow.

The Otago University foundation year courses provide students with a university entrance qualification.

QRC chief executive Charlie Phillips says overseas students will be targeted but he also thinks Kiwis lacking qualifications to get into university will be attracted.

He’s expecting about 20 students in the first intake, early next year, but up to about 100 by 2018.

Phillips says the programme expands Queenstown’s offering as an education destination.

“For every reason that tourism is successful in Queenstown, education will be successful – people are attracted here for the same reasons, whether long-term or short-term.”

“If we grow to 80 to 100 students, you really are talking a significant boost to the Queenstown economy,” Otago University language centre and foundation year chief executive Roger McElwain says.

His university estimates each Dunedin-based student contributes $20,000 to $25,000 in spending in the local economy over the academic year.

Phillips says there’ll be additional benefits from families and friends of the students coming to visit.

He adds Chinese students, in particular, could help alleviate the shortage of Mandarin-speaking staff in town by working part-time while they study.

Phillips is also delighted that QRC’s widening its relationship with Otago University.

The university’s business school already offers its master of entrepreneurship from the top floor of QRC House, which it leases.

“It’s a natural fit, we’ve demonstrated a good relationship with the university over a period of years,” Phillips says.

“They’ve got confidence in what we can do and our ability to do it.

“They’ve got a great tradition of delivering quality education and that’s something we want to entrench here.”

The foundation year courses, delivered in two 13-week semesters, with the option of extra six-week basic English tuition, will teach the likes of academic English, computing, arts and commerce.

“There’s a general thread all students will do and there’ll be some specialisations inside.”

Phillips says the programme will be delivered by existing staff - “there’s a great gene pool here” - and possibly four to five part-timers.

McElwain says QRC will be the only venue outside the university delivering the foundation year programme.

He expects Queenstown will be a popular gateway for Otago students.

“We would like to think that 100 per cent of those students will come on to the University of Otago but students always have a choice as to where to go and what they do.”

QRC chairman Sir Eion Edgar, a former Otago University chancellor, says: “It’s a wonderful opportunity for QRC and the university to work together in the promotion of the foundation studies course which will encourage particularly overseas students to come to Queenstown and then go on to Otago University.”