According to new data released by Education New Zealand, a total of 91,062 student visas were approved last year, a 13% increase on 2014.
“The rising strength of the US dollar over the last couple of years has also enhanced the value proposition of a New Zealand study experience”
The data, released this month, highlights the growth in the number of student visas approved for study in New Zealand for three months or more.
China is still the biggest source market for student visas in New Zealand, with 29,640 visas issued last year – an increase of 15%.
India follows, with the number of total student visas rising by 3,559, an increase of 20%.
However, first time visas from this country only rose by 5%, with the overall growth being attributed to returning student visas, up 56%.
For the US alone, there was a rise of 37% in first time visas last year, and a 30% rise in total student visas.
Brett Berquist, director international at The University of Auckland attributed some of the success in interest to a study abroad campaign ran with GoOverseas.
“The creative applications really tell the story of how intrigued US students are by the physical beauty of the country, our leadership in respecting indigenous cultures, and the quality of our academic institutions,” he told The PIE News.
“The rising strength of the US dollar over the last couple of years has also enhanced the value proposition of a New Zealand study experience for US students.”
Looking at the university sector, the growth was primarily driven by Chinese, Indian and American students, according to Education New Zealand.
Total student visas in the university sector saw much of the growth from China, USA and India.
It saw a 6% rise in total student visa approvals, up by 1,447, with first time visas up 11%.
Despite the overall growth in student visa approvals, 2009 is still a record year in terms of student visa approval rates, with over 96,000.
“From a resurgent US study abroad market to countries like Colombia and Brazil driving new growth, it’s very positive to start 2016 with three consecutive years of growth behind us,” said Grant McPherson, chief executive of Education New Zealand.
“The data also shows, though, that our approach in 2015 is just as relevant for 2016 – having a diversified and sustainable approach to markets, realising regional growth, delivering the best possible student experience and, for some, significantly stepping up international delivery remain high on the agenda in 2016.”
However, a lot of the year-to-date growth in student visas stemmed from the private training establishments and the institutes of technology and polytechnics, which combined, accounted for 7,796 of the additional total student visas.
The PTE sector, which includes English language schools, saw its student visa approvals grow by 16%, with the ITP sector increasing by 25%.
“Government support for the [university] sector is strong and access to leadership for strategy discussions is exceptional,” said Berquist.
“Growth has been recently phenomenal in the sub-university market (PTE and ITP), whereas the university sector is aiming for sustainable long-term steady growth towards our internationalisation goals.”