Tertiary education enrolments by international students

International student numbers decline

The number of international students decreased from 2016 to 2017. Before this, international student numbers had been increasing, a trend that started in 2009.

International students as a proportion of all tertiary students has increased in recent years. The increase has been the result of rising numbers of international students, coupled to falling numbers of domestic students.

Date Updated: November 2018

Indicator description

This indicator looks at international tertiary education students as a proportion of total tertiary education students and how many international students are enrolled in formal tertiary education each year.

International student numbers drop from 2016 to 2017

The number of international students in formal tertiary study fell from 2016 to 2017.  Before this, the numbers had been increasing, a trend that started in 2009.  See Figure 1.

There were 61,300 international students in formal tertiary study in 2017 (down by 2.1 percent from 2016).  This number converted to 43,100 equivalent full-time students (down by 2.0 percent from 2016).

International students make up a growing proportion of all students

International students as a proportion of all students in tertiary study has increased in recent years.  The percentage almost doubled from 2007 to 2017, up from 8.3 percent to 15 percent. The increase is the result of rising numbers of international students, coupled tofalling numbers of domestic students. See Figure 1.

Fewer enrolments in level 1 to 7 diplomas and certificates has been the main driver of the decline in the number of domestic students.

Figure 1: Number of international students in formal tertiary study and international students as a proportion of all students in formal tertiary study

Figure 1: International students as a proportion of total tertiary education students and total number of international students, 1996-2016.

International student numbers by qualification level

The decrease in the number of international students from 2016 with 2017 was the result of fewer students enrolling in level 5 to 7 diplomas and certificates.  These enrolments declined by 3,170, or 18 percent.  From 2016 to 2017, there were increases in enrolments by international students at every other qualification level:

  • level 1 to 3 certificates – up 7.1 percent
  • level 4 certificates – up 1.8 percent
  • bachelors degrees and higher – up 4.0 percent.

In 2017, 83 percent of international students were from Asia.  This included 22,200 students from China and 13,800 from India.

Where to find out more

  • For more detailed tertiary education statistics covering international students visit :Tertiary Education Statistics. To find data for international students go to the ‘finder’ spreadsheet sitting at the front in each workbook and select ‘international’ in the second column of the finder spreadsheet.
  • For information on the outcomes of international graduates who studied in New Zealand see Park, Z (2017) Moving places: Destinations and earnings of international graduates, Wellington:  Ministry of Education.
  • See also the website of Education New Zealand for information on international students.
  • Ministry of Education (2017) Profile & Trends 2016: Tertiary Education Outcomes and Qualification Completions, Wellington:  Ministry of Education.

Footnote

  1. Data refers to the study of qualifications on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework of more than one week's duration.  This type of tertiary study is described as formal study.  Data excludes private training establishments who do not receive some government-funding and/or were approved for student loans or allowances.

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