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NZ: International students up 12%; sector worth $2.85bn

New Zealand’s international education industry is now valued at NZ$2.85bn (US$2.12bn) following 12% year-on-year growth in student numbers for the first two trimesters of 2014, new statistics published by Education New Zealand reveal.

India was New Zealand’s fastest growing source market, with numbers up a staggering 60%

There were some 10,100 more international students in the country between January and August 2014 than during the same period in 2013, the International Education Snapshot reveals.

“These figures give us relative confidence that the full year total will follow a similar trend”

The growth in international students has led to an estimated $258m increase to the New Zealand economy compared to 2012, including an $83m (13%) rise in tuition fee income over the period.

India was New Zealand’s fastest growing source market, with numbers up a staggering 60% compared to the same period in 2013.

Tuition fee growth was particularly notable in the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics and Private Training Establishments sectors (excluding the English language sector), which saw respective increases of $13.8m (16%) and $40.3m (35%).

“The increase in fee income is revenue that institutions can channel back into programmes or facilities to benefit their students, staff and local communities,” Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce commented.

International student growth is also estimated to have created an additional 2,060 jobs over the last two years – contributing to a total of 30,230 supported by the sector.

“The January to August period represents approximately 85% of the year’s enrolments, so these figures give us relative confidence that the full year total will follow a similar trend,” John Goulter, Education New Zealand’s Acting Chief Executive, told The PIE News.

And growth also looks set to continue this year, with a 19% increase in the number of international student visas approved in the year to November 2014.

An “intensive integrated marketing campaign” and changes to international student work rights have been a key driver of growth in India, Goulter said.

As of January 2014, the changes mean tertiary international students studying for at least one academic year can work full-time during scheduled holidays.

The move has enabled New Zealand to take full advantage of declining Indian enrolments in the UK following changes to its post study work visa.

“The increase in fee income is revenue that institutions can channel back into programmes or facilities to benefit their students, staff and local communities”

The government also brought in unlimited work rights for PhD and Masters level students at the same time, which could help to explain record high levels of postgraduate level enrolments in the publicly funded tertiary sector, up 11% in the first two trimesters of 2014, driven by an 18% bump in Masters and 9% rise in Doctoral level enrolments.

“It’s particularly pleasing to see a big lift in higher-level study, with a 41% increase in the number of students studying for postgraduate level qualifications,” commented Joyce.

China, New Zealand’s largest source market, also experienced strong growth of 2,978, or 12%, providing 29.1% of overall international student spending.

Despite overall increases there has been a notable drop in Korean student numbers across the board, which Goulter said is part of a global trend.

The snapshot also demonstrated continued recovery in the Canterbury region, which was hit by two major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, as numbers begin to approach pre-2011 levels.

This growth sees an increased $36m in economic contribution to the regional economy when compared to 2012, with the Canterbury international education industry totalling over $230m.

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