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NZ: sector contribution just $0.8bn in 2020

New Zealand’s international education sector could return to its 2019 $3.7 billion contribution by 2030, according to a recently released analysis.

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By 2030, the 'conservative' scenario envisions a $3.8bn contribution (increase of $0.1bn from 2019)

The research, commissioned by Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao, found that the financial contribution declined to an estimated $0.8 billion in 2020.

The report, from EY, “confirms the tough time the sector has had over the past two years”, ENZ chief executive, Grant McPherson said.

EY suggested that under a ‘conservative’ scenario with a slow recovery in onshore enrolments, immediate-term economic impacts – including fees, expenditure, visiting family and friends tourism spend and education-related exports – will only recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2030.

Labour supply yearly impacts will be 62% of pre-pandemic levels by 2030 in the ‘conservative’ scenario.

An ‘optimistic’ recovery with quicker rebound will see immediate-term economic impacts return to pre-pandemic levels in 2028, and “labour supply yearly impacts start to recover from 2030 onwards”.

By 2030, the ‘conservative’ scenario envisions a $3.8bn contribution (increase of $0.1bn from 2019), while the ‘optimistic’ recovery estimates a $4.2bn contribution (increase of $0.5bn from 2019).

The return to pre-pandemic immediate-term contribution levels is unlikely until 2030 “without significant investment in a sustainable and resilient sector”, the report said.

ENZ also recently launched an online pilot learning platform for adult professionals, as part of the Strategic Recovery Plan for International Education launched in 2020.

The Study With New Zealand Online is designed to cater to the “significant career-oriented adult learner market” that is looking for career-progression education, according to ENZ general manager for Sector Engagement, Wendy Kerr.

“Good examples of courses unique to New Zealand are a short course on sustainability in the wine industry delivered by NMIT | Te Pūkenga,” she said on March 31.

The online platform has up to 60 courses available from more than 20 education providers.

“We know how hard the pandemic was on international education”

“We know how hard the pandemic was on international education. This project is about exploring new and different ways to deliver, and new and different audiences for, the New Zealand education experience. The goal is to diversify and build resilience,” Kerr added.

The EY report also analysed the indirect longer-term contribution of international students in the country.

Some 62% of international students return to their country of origin after their studies, the research found. A further 13% leave the country after completing their post-study work experience.

The international students living and working in New Zealand in 2019 and 2022 contributed some $6bn to New Zealand’s GDP in both 2019 and 2022.

“[This report…] highlights the contribution it made in the past, the contribution it makes beyond economic value, and tells us that it is possible to become a vibrant, sustainable and resilient sector in the future,” McPherson added.

In the previous 10 years some 74,000 international students remained in New Zealand and transitioned into the domestic workforce, EY concluded.

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