New Zealand rebounds volume of international student applications

New Zealand rebounds volume of international student applications

New Zealand as a top study destination, then and now

Far beyond its rich culture, world-renowned wines and jaw-dropping picturesque landscapes, New Zealand has always been a prime study destination for students all around the world. This country remains a top choice for international education because of its excellent educational system, globally recognised qualifications and diverse research opportunities.


But like everything else, the influx of international students coming to study in New Zealand was greatly affected by the global pandemic. Since the entire world was on lockdown, the decrease in the volume of applications from international students was expected, but this occurrence did not in any way hamper the value nor quality of education in New Zealand.


Once New Zealand started opening its borders to international students again, it was evident that a full recovery from the pandemic was more than possible. According to New Zealand Education, “Since New Zealand’s international borders reopened in August 2022, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has received 43,541 student visa applications from international students outside of New Zealand. We have completed 37,916 of these applications with 32,457 approved.”


To support and add to this, ICEF Monitor said that “[f]or the year up to 5 July 2023, INZ reports a total of 53,428 student visa applications, of which 47,057 (88%) were approved. We’ll use 2018/19, the last full year before the onset of the pandemic, as our pre-COVID baseline. INZ reports 89,096 student visa applications for that year, with 82,176 (92%) approved.” These figures indicate that the volume of applications for New Zealand study visas is nearing 60% of pre-pandemic levels, so while the numbers have not completely gone back to normal, we can clearly see a remarkable difference. From this, we can deduce that the volume of applications are well on their way back to, or could probably even surpass, previous records.


The value of international students to New Zealand and vice versa

While the global lockdown did affect the number of international students coming into New Zealand, it did not impair the reputation of New Zealand as a favourable study destination. This is evidenced by the fact that international students continue to choose and apply to study in New Zealand. Furthermore, there are data showing the continuous and steady growth in the volume of applications right after New Zealand opened its borders post-lockdown. One concrete example of this would be Brazil. Bruna de Natale, ENZ’s Market Development Manager in Brazil, said that “[i]n this most recent survey, New Zealand moved to seventh position on the list of top education destinations sought by Brazilians who studied abroad, compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic when it was in eighth place. The main reason driving country choice for the students surveyed is the quality of life – New Zealand ranks very well for the quality of life, education, and the protection of civil rights.” 


In a reciprocal way, international students are very much valued by New Zealand as they are clearly important to their economy and culture. According to New Zealand Education, “EY found that international students living and working in New Zealand in 2019 and 2022 contributed economic, social, cultural, and international benefits.” 


Further strengthening education ties

Along with the momentum in the increasing volume of applications from international students, New Zealand further cultivates and progresses its foreign relations overseas. Hon Jan Tinetti, New Zealand’s Minister of Education, visited Canada and the USA from 22 to 28 April to take part in a broad spectrum of education engagements, including the International Summit on the Teaching Profession 2023 in Washington D.C. According to New Zealand Education, this visit was “an opportunity to form relationships with international ministerial counterparts and key stakeholders, lead and participate in policy dialogue, and promote understanding of Aotearoa New Zealand’s education system and reforms.”


Dubois Jennings, ENZ’s Director of Engagement, Americas, Middle East and Europe, said that Minister Tinetti has made it apparent that New Zealand “values the potential opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration, and her interest in developing these relationships”. He adds that  “Minister Tinetti used her time at ISTP to make important connections with other countries, several senior US education officials and experts in specific areas of interest for New Zealand. Those interests include national policies around compulsory education, teacher training, professional development, higher education and vocational training”.


Additionally, while in Washington D.C, the minister had also met with Chen Jie, China’s Vice Minister of Education. The bilateral meeting between these two countries adds to the roster of Ministerial and Officials engagements over the past couple of months, adding value to the strong education relationship between New Zealand and China.


From all of this information, we can see that New Zealand is on an upward slope with regards to international education. To learn more about our partner institutions and how to support your students, visit our platform and reach out to our Business Development Managers in your region today!

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