24 Aug 2022

Covid-19: Figures reveal education sector losses in international student fees

11:47 am on 24 August 2022

The pandemic has cost education providers more than $1 billion in lost fees.

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Enrolments and fees paid by foreign tertiary, secondary and primary students are down considerably since pre-pandemic levels. Photo: 123rf

Figures collected as part of the government's export education levy show institutions received $250 million less from foreign students' fees in 2020 than they did in 2019, and $610m less in 2021.

This year's fees would be even lower because there were fewer students.

Immigration New Zealand told RNZ there were just 14,639 international students with valid study visas in New Zealand when the border fully reopened on 31 July, down from about 60,000 when the pandemic began in March 2020.

In total, international students paid $594m in fees in 2021, $963m in 2020 and $1.2b in 2019.

The export education levy figures showed the fees paid to private tertiary institutions that received no government funding, such as language schools, were worst hit by the pandemic, dropping 88 percent from $135m in 2019 to $16m last year.

Polytechnics received nearly $67.5m in international student fees in 2021, a drop of $110m or 62 percent from 2019.

Secondary schools' fee income halved to $84m, while primary schools' fee income dropped 64 percent to $8.6m.

Universities' international fees fell 40 percent to $348.5m last year.

Immigration New Zealand figures showed of the 14,639 international students in New Zealand on 31 July, 6039 were Chinese, and 1374 were Indian.

Most of the students, 7697, were enrolled in universities, 3102 at schools, 1946 with polytechnics and 1894 with private tertiary institutes.

Education providers enrolling students for next year have warned it would take several years for numbers to recover.

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