NZ regions should target international students

Some of New Zealand’s smaller regions should consider targeting international students to boost their flagging economies, a new study suggests.

A study carried out by economic consultants Infometrics, found that International education is the fourth-largest earner of international export revenue for New Zealand, generating more than NZ$4 billion in 2015/16.

The international education industry in New Zealand ballooned in late 2014 and 2015 after changes in working rights allowed students to study full time during study breaks, effectively bringing offshore study within the budgets of more people. Although the sector has tightened in the wake of reports of student visa fraud, New Zealand still remains hugely popular with international students.

However, it was found that Dunedin is the only city outside Auckland where international students contribute more than the national average of 1.7 per cent of regional economic output.

“Leveraging the future demand growth for international students is a large and, in some cases, untapped opportunity for districts and regions around New Zealand,” the report said. “But to attract students who could have a considerable impact on their local economy, New Zealand’s regions need to be competitive.”

The report continued: “Attracting students is often not all about having world class education programs, but the entire experience. These factors include: access to amenities, programmes catered to international students, and things for the students to do. When making economic development decisions, councils and those involved in the education sector should consider catering programmes to international students in a way that helps maximise the impact they have on their regional economy.”

Article published 28th April 2017