7 March 2018

International student enrolments are down but value holds

International student enrolments in New Zealand decreased by seven per cent in the first eight months of 2017 but the economic value of the sector remained stable at an estimated $4.4 billion.

Education New Zealand today released a summary of international student enrolment information for 2017 as at 31 August.

It shows that New Zealand institutions received 106,021 student enrolments, a decrease of some 8,286 enrolments on the same period in 2016. The main decrease was in the smaller institutions focused on the international market, which were down 30 per cent on 2016 figures.

In contrast, there was strong growth in the regions and more students coming from a broader mix of countries.

Education New Zealand Acting Chief Executive John Goulter says the figures reflect the work undertaken by government agencies to focus on value and quality and to encourage more regional growth and market diversity.

New Zealand had seen seven per cent enrolment growth in the university sector to 28,821 students, with an estimated economic value of $1.28 billion, up nine per cent or $110 million, on 2016. Enrolments grew in all levels of post-graduate study.

 “We’re committed to ensuring that international students have a high-quality experience while studying here and return home as great advocates for New Zealand.”

Enrolment figures show an increase in students from a broader range of countries. While enrolments from India declined by 29 per cent (down 7,094), a growing number of student enrolments are coming from the US, Colombia, Chile, Indonesia and Viet Nam.

“China and India together account for 50 per cent of all student enrolments, and remain very important student markets for New Zealand,” says Mr Goulter.

“However, we’re seeing growth from a more diverse range of countries which is good for long-term sustainability.”

Mr Goulter says a lot of effort has gone into increasing the number of students studying in New Zealand’s regions so more parts of the country can share the benefits of international education.

While Auckland continues to be the main destination for international students with 60 per cent of all enrolments, its enrolments have decreased 10 per cent (7,484 fewer students) from 2016. Meanwhile, enrolments in the Waikato, Manawatu-Whanganui, Canterbury and Otago regions are growing.

The 2017 provisional economic value of $4.4 billion is a slight drop on the 2016 economic value of $4.5 billion. This consolidates international education’s place as New Zealand’s fourth-largest export sector, supporting more than 33,000 jobs across New Zealand.

An infographic summary of the 2017 international student enrolment data as at 31 August 2017 can be found here.

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