International student enrolments in New Zealand fell by five percent in 2017 but the economic value of the sector held steady at $4.5 billion.
ENZ has today released a summary of international student enrolment information for the full year to 31 December 2017.
New Zealand institutions received 125,392 student enrolments last year, a decline of five percent (6,217 enrolments) on 2016.
The overall decrease was driven by a drop in international student enrolments in private training establishments (PTE), which were down 22 percent on 2016 figures. However, this was partially offset by increases in universities (seven percent), secondary schools (six percent), primary schools (29 percent) and intermediate schools (14 percent).
Further, there was strong growth in many regions and more students coming from a broader mix of countries including Colombia, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand and Viet Nam.
ENZ Chief Executive Grant McPherson is pleased with the figures which he says reflect the recent work undertaken by government agencies to focus on quality over quantity in the sector.
“Considerable work has gone into rebalancing the sector, with increased emphasis on attracting international students to high-quality courses at New Zealand institutions in all parts of the country.
“This is reflected especially in the enrolment growth at postgraduate level. Since 2013, the number of postgraduate international students has grown consistently, with 63 percent more postgraduate international students in 2017 than in 2013.
“For this reason, despite the decline in student numbers, the 2017 economic value of the sector remained stable.”
He said that ENZ was committed to ensuring that “international students have a high-quality experience while studying here and return home as great advocates for New Zealand”.
The decline in the PTE subsector was due to a 28 percent reduction in students from India. This drove the nine percent decrease (7,661 fewer students) in Auckland from 2016, while growth in the university and secondary school subsectors supported the increased number of international students in other regions of New Zealand.
“While Auckland continues to be an important destination for international students with 60 percent of all enrolments, we want to ensure that the benefits of international education flow into the regions, not just our big cities,” says Grant.
“International students are increasingly aware of the high-quality education offering outside Auckland, with the Waikato region in particular seeing growth of eight percent in 2017. Enrolments in the Manawatu-Whanganui, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, Otago and Southland regions are growing too.”
The 2017 economic value of the sector is similar to the published 2016 economic value of $4.5 billion. ENZ is currently undertaking a report to calculate the economic value of international students to New Zealand for 2017. This will be published later this year.
An infographic summary of the full-year 2017 international student enrolment data can be found here.