International education contributes $5.1 billion to New Zealand economy

  • Hon Chris Hipkins

New research shows the most recent annual economic value of international education is $5.1 billion, making it the country’s fourth largest export, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

“$4.8 billion is attributed to international students visiting New Zealand and $0.3 billion to education and training goods and services delivered offshore,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The research highlights how important the international education sector is to New Zealand not only nationally but also regionally. 

“Auckland has seen a drop in the total number of visiting students over the last year – largely due to continued efforts by Government to lift overall quality – however, the economic value of the sector remained strong, totalling $2.76 billion.

“New Zealand regions such as Southland ($60 million), Waikato ($280 million) and Northland ($50 million) also saw significant economic benefit from local activity.”

The report, based on 2017 data, also highlights that 49,631 jobs are supported by the international education sector. This is made up of 47,490 jobs connected to visiting students, and a further 2,141 jobs (973 in New Zealand and 1,168 offshore) from offshore activity in 2017.

“These strong economic results are underpinned by other positive changes in the sector,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Recent developments include the release of an International Education Strategy for New Zealand in August, which sets out a new path for the future of New Zealand’s international education sector.

“Its three goals include ‘delivering an excellent education and student experience’, ‘achieving sustainable growth’ and ‘developing global citizens’.  

“The focus has shifted away from volume and growing the number of students in New Zealand, toward offering an exemplary student experience and building a sector that provides benefits for all New Zealanders.

“For example, international education gives the next generation the opportunity to learn alongside people from all over the world, which encourages our young people to look outward and helps them develop global skills valuable for tomorrow’s workforce.”

For the first time, the tourism spend of visiting friends and family was identified as part of the 2017 research but is additional to the total $5.1b value of the sector. This was calculated to be $460 million* across New Zealand.

Notes for editors:

*The $460 million is currently counted as part of the value of New Zealand’s tourism industry.

The national infographic can be found here and regional infographics are available here.

A fact sheet is available here.