International student enrolments grow in universities and the regions

  • Hon Chris Hipkins

International education continues to thrive as the Government focuses on quality over quantity, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

The tuition revenue from international education increased to $1.16 billion last year with the average tuition fee per student increasing by $960.

The total number of international students enrolled in New Zealand last year was 117,248 a 6% decrease compared to the previous year.

“Despite a drop in overall enrolments, the number of international students studying in our universities went up to 31,529 – up by 7% compared to 2017,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“We are also seeing the numbers of international students studying in our schools go up, with the sector seeing a 6% increase in enrolments.

“This is the first time in the last six years that the university sector has become the largest sector for international students, overtaking Private Training Establishments (PTEs).

“Good progress has been made to remove low-quality providers, and eliminating non-genuine students entering through the student visa, solely in pursuit of residence.

“International student numbers in the PTE sector have dropped, and sixteen PTEs have involuntarily closed since 2016. 

“There are, however, still more than 400 quality PTEs that continue to provide highly responsive and innovative programmes for students.

“Our focus on quality over quantity will ensure that the growth is sustainable – something that’s crucial to future-proofing the sector.

“I’m really pleased to see that more and more high value international students are choosing New Zealand as their study destination.

It comes at a time when more Kiwis are seeing the benefits that international education brings at both a national and regional level. 

“International students not only provide huge economic benefits but give New Zealanders an opportunity to make connections with people from all over the world, and learn about their culture.

The latest perceptions survey has found that 58% of New Zealanders believe that international education contributes positively to New Zealand as a country, and 51% perceive it to be contributing positively at regional level.

“It’s encouraging that the Canterbury region experienced the largest increase of international students – up by 4% from the previous year.

“Other regions have also experienced growth including Taranaki and Manawatu-Whanganui.

“The regional distribution of international students is now at its highest level for the past five years, and the reform of vocational education and training that’s underway will likely see more international students choose to study in regional New Zealand,” Chris Hipkins said.

Notes to editors:

  • 117,248 international students studied in New Zealand in 2018.
  • International students came from 177 different countries or territories to study in New Zealand in 2018, with an increase in the number of international students coming from 27 countries. This includes an increase in students coming from France, Thailand, Nepal, the UK and Viet Nam.  
  • The International Education Strategy, released in August 2018, sets out a path for the future of New Zealand’s international education sector through to 2030. This includes a focus on sustainable growth and ensuring that regions throughout New Zealand increasingly share the benefits of international education.