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NZ: first-time study visas hold steady

New Zealand’s first time student visa data for the first half of the 2018/19 financial year has maintained its level to break a two-year trend of losses according to Immigration New Zealand, but full-year visas are anticipated to lose ground.

First-time student visas have maintained their level for the first half of 2018/19. Photo: Nate Watson/UnsplashFirst-time student visas have maintained their level for the first half of 2018/19. Photo: Nate Watson/Unsplash

Despite the first-half figures showing stability, full financial year data is anticipated decrease

“While enrolment in lower levels are down, university enrolments are still up from China”

From July to December 2018, the number of first-time student visas issued increased by 35, remaining just short of 21,500.

“2018 was a year of change for New Zealand international education,” Education New Zealand chief executive Grant McPherson told The PIE News.

“A milestone for the international education sector was the launch of the New Zealand International Education Strategy, outlining our country’s vision for a sustainable sector through until 2030, with a fresh focus on delivering an excellent student experience and achieving sustainable growth.”

The statistics continue New Zealand’s trend towards rebalancing, with the overall number of first-time visas maintaining their level despite the largest source market China dipping by almost 500.

“While enrolment in lower level qualifications are down, university enrolments are still up from China,” explained McPherson.

“There are many reasons for the China decline including strong competition from other destinations, changing demographics and agent deregulation within China. China is also investing in improving its own education system.”

The biggest mover in the six-month figures was South Africa, which jumped from ninth largest source market to fourth, off the back of a 56% increase.

Despite the first-half figures showing stability among new international student numbers, McPherson said he anticipated the full financial year data would see a decrease, in part due to changes introduced to the country’s post-study work visa at the start of 2018/19.

Introduced shortly before the new strategy, the changed post-study work rights were estimated to lead to a decrease of between 1,600 and 6,000 first-time student visas by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

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