International Student Enrolments in New Zealand 2001-2007
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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Section 2: International enrolments by origin
The information on enrolments can be disaggregated by the reported origins of the students, as shown in Table 2 and Chart 2. The overall growth in the sector from 2001 to 2002 was clearly driven by a rapid increase in enrolments of students from the People's Republic of China ('China'), rising 118 percent from 25,182 to 53,340 enrolments. Since the peak in 2002 there has been a 54 percent decline in Chinese enrolments, to 24,776 in 2007.
There was also a marked increase in enrolments of students from South Korea, rising 55 percent from 12,802 in 2001 to 19,881 in 2002. Since the decline recorded from 2003 to 2005 there has been a recovery in enrolments from South Korea, rising to 17,503 in 2007.
The reasons for the initial rapid growth in enrolments from China include New Zealand's relatively open immigration system at the time, compared to the other 'main English-speaking education destination countries'; a heightened interest by Chinese students in gaining Western tertiary qualifications; and perceptions of New Zealand as being a relatively safe and low-cost country in which to study, due partly to the lower value of the New Zealand dollar.
The decline in Chinese interest since 2002 – 2003 has usually been ascribed to factors including negative publicity, due partly to the high-profile failure of a number of private education providers in New Zealand; much greater competition from other countries for Chinese students (notably from universities in Australia, Great Britain, and Canada); a greatly increased provision of tertiary education opportunities in China; and the rising value of the New Zealand dollar2.
Chart 2: Enrolments of international students, by origin
The overall rise in enrolments of South Korean students since 2001 is believed to be based on a need to learn English, due to the requirements of the Korean examination system and employment within key chaebol exporting companies.
While there has, since 2002, been a decline in the level of enrolments from China, there has been overall growth recorded from the relatively smaller source regions of Europe, North America, and Latin America. European enrolments have risen 83 percent from 2001 to 2007, and North American enrolments rose by 168 percent over the same period.
Chart 3 states the proportions of total international enrolments by student origins. In 2001 the 'top three' (China, Japan and South Korea) made up 66 percent of all enrolments. This rose to a peak of 73 percent in 2003, and has since reduced to 60 percent for 2007.
Chart 3: Proportion of total international enrolments, by origin
- At its lowest point in November 2000, 1 $NZ was worth 0.40 $US; by November 2004 the value of the $NZ had risen 75 percent to 0.70 $US (source: Reserve Bank of New Zealand).