International Student Enrolments in New Zealand 2001-2007

Publication Details

This report summarises the publicly available data, from four main sources, on enrolments of international students within New Zealand education provider sectors from 2001 to 2007. Summary information is also stated on the numbers of approved student visas and permits for the calendar years 2001 to 2007.

Author(s): International Division, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: June 2008

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This information is disaggregated by origin, according to the key markets of North Asia, South-East Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America, and the developing markets of Latin America and South Asia. Further information is given on the estimated economic value-added to New Zealand from international education. 


The information in this memorandum is based on public data released by the Ministry of Education, Statistics New Zealand, and the Immigration Service of the Department of Labour.   

School enrolments

The Ministry’s data on international enrolments within schools is stated as at 1 July from 2001 to 2005, and is from the roll returns summaries listed here on the International Students in New Zealand page on the Education Counts website.

Tertiary enrolments

The Ministry’s data on international enrolments within public and private tertiary education organisations is for the years 2001 to 2005, and summarises those students enrolled at any time during the year in formal qualifications of more than a weeks duration at the 35 public tertiary educational institutions and the 263 private providers that received Ministry of Education funding, or that enrolled students in receipt of student loans or student allowances. The statistics represent student numbers rather than enrolments, and include exchange, scholarship, and foreign fee-paying students.  Visit the International Students in New Zealand page on the Education Counts website.

English Language Provider enrolments

The information on enrolments within English language providers (ELP) is from the annual Statistics New Zealand Survey of English Language Providers, for the financial years ended 31 March 2001 to 31 March 2006.  As a convention to aggregate the data sources used in the tables in this report, the English Language Provider data from Statistics New Zealand is stated as covering the previous calendar year, i.e. the ELP data for the year ended 31 March 2006 is included in the ‘2005’ period.

Immigration data

The Immigration New Zealand website (Department of Labour) publishes monthly updates on the numbers of approved applications for student visas and permits.  While this information source provides a timely update on the origins of prospective international students, the data is not able to be matched with the actual enrolments in different providers, as this information is not collected by the Department of Labour.

A point to be borne in mind when referring to student visa and permit data is that it can understate total student numbers, as many enrolees in English Language Providers are believed to be in New Zealand on visitor visas.

The Export Education Levy

The periods used for 2001–2005 are not directly comparable with the calendar year information recorded for the Export Education Levy (‘the Levy’), which has been administered by the Ministry of Education since January 2003.   This Levy is paid by all providers which enrol foreign fee-paying students.  Information on the national origins of enrolments has been collected from January 2006. 

A limitation of the Levy data is that it only records enrolments of international fee-paying students, and so does not include students who have domestic fees status with New Zealand state education providers. This group includes exchange students, French and German post-graduate students, and international Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students who enrolled from 19 April 2005.

The summary Export Education Levy (EEL) data for the 2003 to 2007 calendar years is on the Internationalisation of Education providers in New Zealand page of the Education Counts website.


The total enrolments of international students across all provider groups rose by 61 percent from 2001 to 2002, from 79,030 to 126,919.  From the market peak in 2002 there has been a 28 percent decline to 90,934 enrolments in 2006.  This decline mainly affected the schools and private training establishments.  From 2005 a reduction in total enrolments within the state tertiary education sector1 was also recorded.

A graphical representation of this data is shown in Chart 1. It is apparent that the greatest increase in enrolments occurred within the English language provider sector, followed by the tertiary education institutions.  While the decline since the 2002 peak is clearly evident, the 2007 level is still about 15 percent above the total recorded for 2001.

Table 1: International enrolments by provider groups

Public Tertiary Education Institutions
Private Training Establishments
English Language Providers
  1. Sources 2001-2005: Schools data is at 1 July (Ministry of Education roll returns.) Tertiary data, for public and private providers, is for full calendar years 2001 to 2005 (Ministry of Education Single data return database. English language provider data is for the financial years ended 31 March 2002 to 2006 (Statistics New Zealand Survey of English Language Providers).
  2. Sources 2006-2007: Export Education Levy database for the full calendar year for schools, state tertiary providers, and private training establishments (described as SDR' and non-SDR' private providers). The latter category includes English langugage providers.

Chart 1: Enrolments of international students in New Zealand, by provider groupspubID-28332-fig1


  1. The tertiary education sector includes the publicly-funded institutions of the universities, institutes of technology/polytechnics, wananga, and teachers colleges; and the private training establishments (PTEs) that receive government funding for their students.


Where to find out more

Contact Us

If you have any queries or would like further information about international education, please email the: International Mailbox