International students pay around five times as much as domestic students and don’t receive first year fees free. Yes, the government partially subsidises university fees, including fees free, and international students or their parents have not been paying taxes to the government, so it makes some sense. But the university could still be doing more to help its international students.
Te Pōkai Tara (Universities NZ) reports that universities are funded 33% by the Government, 18% by domestic students, and 10% by international students. The remaining 38% is predominantly from grants and research based income. At Otago, in 2019, there were 2,972 international students and 21,240 students total. Thus, around 14% of the student population were paying 36% of the total student generated income. International dent students, for example, pay $102,087 per year.
Of the 136 scholarships currently offered on the University website, 27 of them are open to international students, and only six are specifically for international students. Of these six, two are for undergraduate students. Of the total undergraduate student body, 12% are international and they are only able to apply for 1.5% of the scholarships, driving the competition for these to extremely high levels.
There are a few to look at. First are the New Zealand Scholarships. Set up through the New Zealand Aid Programme, it provides scholarships to citizens of ‘some developing countries’ and doesn’t provide much information on the closing date, number of scholarships offered, or how much it is. When trying to find more information on this scholarship, I got a headache switching between Evision, the international page, and the scholarship page. I couldn’t imagine doing this as a first-year who doesn’t even know how to work Evision.
Second is the Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship for International Students. It’s available for “all eligible international students who are offered a place in an eligible programme and will be starting full-time, full-year, undergraduate study for the first time at a New Zealand university in 2022 or 2023”. The $10,000 is undoubtedly a godsend for those who receive it, and the eligibility criteria on the Uni website seem broad and vague enough to cover most applications. But it’s not a guarantee. Given how high the cost of tuition already is, it feels like listing a pair of shoes for $600 and then putting a $100 sale on it to make it look like a better deal. But that’s still a $500 pair of shoes.
I believe the lack of scholarships beyond the VC’s only reinforces the idea that international students are the university's cash cows, who don’t contribute anything to the campus other than absurd wealth. This can’t be the norm. International students bring diversity through ideas and culture, and have plenty to contribute to the university’s prestigious ranking. QS Ranking, which ranks Otago in the top 1% of universities worldwide (a claim plastered all over the uni’s website), takes into consideration the number of international students and basically how ‘worldly’ the university is. If Otago wants to keep this statistic up, they need to keep the campus diverse and help international students. One way to do this would be offering a few more scholarships to a cohort of students that bring their talents from overseas. If the only internationals they bring in are the rich ones, they’re gonna miss out on the people that make this campus a worldly place.