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Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
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3rd Jul 2024

New Zealand hosted over 69,000 international students in 2023

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • New Zealand’s foreign enrolment reached over 69,000 in 2023, up 67% over 2022
  • China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand are the top five source markets
  • In 2023, the number of international students in New Zealand represented 60% of the pre-pandemic number

New Zealand’s schools, universities, language institutes, and vocational institutions together hosted 69,135 international students in 2023, a 67% increase in total foreign enrolment over 2022. This represents 60% of the international student base in 2019, when over 115,000 international students were enrolled.

During the pandemic, New Zealand’s borders were closed for longer than any of the other leading English-speaking destinations, fully re-opening only in the summer of 2022. This is part of the reason for the slower recovery of New Zealand’s international student numbers. Another factor is that New Zealand’s international education strategy prioritises balance over limitless growth. The goal is the development of a sustainable sector that brings economic, social, and cultural benefits to the whole country.

Dr Linda Sissons, Acting Chief Executive of Education New Zealand, commented:

“Over 69,000 enrolments from international students all over the world is good news for our education sector and positive for our communities. It confirms that New Zealand is an attractive place to study, offering a quality learning experience inside and outside the classroom in a safe, welcoming environment. New Zealand is a small country and for many students, rubbing shoulders with people from other cultures gives them a greater understanding of the issues facing our complex world. In this time of fragile geopolitics, the melting pot of campus life can help build greater understanding and tolerance.”

The most growth occurred in the university and English-language sectors

The university sector – the largest segment of New Zealand’s overall international education industry – has recovered the most fully of all the sectors, reaching 86% of pre-pandemic volumes for a total of 29,065 students (+21% over 2022). But the English-language sector expanded the most year-over-year, enrolling 9,569 students in 2023 versus only 1,565 in 2022 (+511%), and the schools sector also expanded significantly to 14,125 (+138%).

New Zealand’s Private Training Establishments (PTEs) and Te Pūkenga (New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology) enrolled 59% and 74% more international students in 2023 than 2022, respectively.

International enrolments in New Zealand, 2013-23. Source: Education New Zealand

Top markets

New Zealand education institutions remain heavily reliant on China (35%) and India (11%), which together make up nearly half the total enrolment (46%). This reliance on the top two source markets is similar to Canada and the US (51% and 52%, respectively), and comparable to what we see in Australia and the UK, where Chinese and Indian students make up 45% and 41%, respectively, of the total foreign enrolment.

After China and India, Japan is New Zealand’s third-largest source market (10%), South Korea is the fourth (5%), and Thailand is the fifth (4%). No other country composes more than 4% of the total foreign enrolment.

Speaking to the issue of diversification, Education New Zealand’s Dr Sissons said:

“Enabling a thriving and globally connected New Zealand through world-class international education is a government priority. We are actively diversifying our recruitment efforts to reach international students in a broad range of countries.”

For additional background, please see:

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