11 Dec 2021

Number of foreign students in NZ drops by two-thirds

3:43 pm on 11 December 2021

Immigration New Zealand figures show 19,191 foreign students remain in the country, a little over a third of the number that were in New Zealand at the start of the pandemic.

Generic Library / Students

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The figure for people with valid study visas does not include foreign Phd students and others who pay the same fees as domestic students.

The total is down from 51,580 in April last year, soon after the pandemic closed the borders, and well below a normal year when there would be up to 86,000 foreign students in the country at any one time and about 115,000 over the course of a year.

The private sector was worst hit with just 3181 students remaining in the country, a fall of about 72 percent.

Polytechnics had 2892 full-fee foreign students in New Zealand, a drop of 69 percent since April last year, while universities had half as many full-fee-paying students as at the start of the pandemic with 8914.

There were 4197 foreign students in schools, down from 10,500 in April last year.

The figures also showed there were 1828 people outside New Zealand with a valid study visa, down from 9272 in April last year.

More than half of those outside the country had visas to study at universities, and more than 500 had visas for primary or secondary schools.

Industry insiders said it was not clear when international students would be allowed to return.

They told RNZ that though the government had said the borders would reopen at the end of April, Immigration New Zealand had extended its halt on visa processing for most people until August.

In addition, the sector is waiting on government decisions about its plan to rebuild international education with less emphasis on work and residence rights, both of which had been significant drawcards for many students in recent years.

The figures showed 7072 of the students with valid study visas in-country were from China, 2664 were from India and 1460 from South Korea.

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