International students enrolled in tertiary education
What We Have FoundThe number of international students in tertiary education in New Zealand increased between 2008 and 2009. Almost all levels of tertiary education saw an increase in international enrolments.
Date Updated: June 2011
Numbers of international students enrolled in tertiary education.
Why This Is Important
Increasing the number of overseas students is part of government's export education initiative. The initiative, set up in 2001, aims to: increase export earning; manage risk; create other economic, educational and cultural benefits.
A key criterion for the sustainability of export education is that there is a diversity of international students in terms of country and region of origin. This aims to limit the impact of sudden changes in demand for tertiary education in New Zealand from particular countries, and for particular programmes and fields of study. A diverse mix of international students also spreads the impact and benefits across New Zealand’s tertiary education sector and throughout individual tertiary education organisations.
Revenue from international students provides public tertiary providers with another source of funding.
How We Are Going
The number of international tertiary education students increased between 2008 and 2009 from 39,778 to 43,457. In 2009, almost all levels of tertiary education saw an increase in international enrolments when compared to 2008. The exception was international bachelors enrolments which experienced a slight fall between 2008 and 2009. The number of international students enrolled in doctoral studies continued to increase with a 23% increase between 2008 and 2009. Before the declines between 2005 and 2008, the total number of international students studying in publicly-funded tertiary education organisations increased from 9,272 in 1998 to a peak of 50,394 in 2004, a 5.4-fold increase.
International students as a proportion of total formal tertiary education students declined from just over 10% in 2003 to 8.6% in 2008. However, this proportion has increased again and was 9.3% in 2009.
In 2009, 71% of international students came from Asia. While the proportion of international students that come from Asia has decreased in recent years (83% in 2003), these figures still highlight the dependence of the tertiary education sector on students from Asian countries.
The next largest numbers of international students in 2009 came from Europe, North America and the Pacific. As a proportion of the total, the number of international students from Europe accounted for 9.4%, those from North America represented 7.1% and 4.9% came from Pacific countries.
The highest area of growth continued to be in the number of students from the Middle East region, though this group only represented 4.1% of the total.
- Ministry of Education (2009). Expected Contributions: Tertiary Education Strategy Monitoring 2009. Wellington, Ministry of Education.
- Ministry of Education (2010) Facing the Challenge: Tertiary Education Strategy Monitoring 2010. Wellington, Ministry of Education.
- Ministry of Education (2010). Profile & Trends 2009: New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Sector. Wellington: Ministry of Education.