Head of sales at Eurocentres, Ivo Haefliger, said of the Australasia closures: “In the case of Auckland in New Zealand and Perth in Australia we have seen steady decline over the last few years for different reasons… For economic reasons we have decided not to run these schools from next year on.”
He blamed high currency rates for a shift in interest from Australasia towards the US, where the dollar has been at an “all time low”. In response Eurocentres will open a school in San Diego, California, next year.
“While Australia and New Zealand are going down, the US is booming, so we want to go into that market… The US dollar is really cheap right now and to get a visa is much easier than in the UK,” Haefliger said.
He added that the proximity of the US to markets such as Europe and Latin America had also made it more popular.
Australia’s visa regime had also played a role in the Perth closure, while the Christchurch earthquake had had a knock-on effect on Auckland bookings, he said.
In 2013 new Eurocentres will open in Argentina, Peru, Spain, the USA and Australia
The closure will not halt expansion at Eurocentres, which currently runs 28 schools in five continents. Along with the US opening in 2013, it will open Spanish schools in Cusco, Peru, Buenos Aires, Argentina and Madrid, Spain, and ironically a new ELT operation in Melbourne, Australia. “That’s a destination where we see growth and big demand,” explained Haefliger.
In other Australasia news, Oxford International Academy in Auckland has gone into liquidation, leaving 150 mainly Indian students in limbo as they look for alternative schools.
The closure comes six months after the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) stopped the school marking its own exams, due to findings of plagiarism, poor attendance and low course-completion rates.
NZQA is helping the school’s students find new places at a list of approved providers. According to the New Zealand Herald, it is the fifth high profile closure of a school for international students in New Zealand since 2009.