New Zealand Herald – January 25, 2010
An important, lucrative industry comes of age
Robert Stevens writes on the important business of international students coming
to New Zealand for education
Twenty-one years ago, prior to the passage of the 1989 Education Act, international students
were an exotic rarity in most of our schools and universities. A visit from an exchange student
was met with curiosity and some trepidation.
Today, international students have become an integral part of the New Zealand landscape,
and for schools, tertiary institutions and private training providers all around the country,
international students are an extremely valued part of the student body.
International students give New Zealand’s educational system a more international
perspective. This helps the New Zealand economy to remain competitive in the global market
place because our future workforce is at ease with a range of international languages,
cultures and beliefs.
And it makes it able to tap into international connections and networks through the
relationships that they have formed.
International students also provide a welcome source of foreign currency income for New
Zealand. Export education now contributes over $2 billion per year to the New Zealand
economy in foreign exchange, making education New Zealand’s fifth biggest export earner
and generating jobs for some 45,200 New Zealanders.
Of the $2 billion, some $597 million in tuition fee income is paid directly to our educational
institutions with the balance in living expenses whilst they stay here – often for long periods
of time. The government also comes out a winner thanks to the $242 million in direct and
indirect taxes that accrue as a result of the industry’s efforts.
While many industries suffered one of their most difficult years on record in 2009, export
education continued to grow. This was due in part to education’s counter-cyclical nature. In
a recession when jobs are scarce, people turn to further ed