Positive results highlighted in the second international education benchmark for New Zealand

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Our analysis estimates that the 26,442 international students studying at New Zealand universities contributed NZ$1.1 billion to the New Zealand economy during 2016. 


The International Education Benchmark for New Zealand was established in October 2015 with the objective to benchmark all aspects of international student recruitment and international student mobility.


In 2017, the comprehensive international education benchmark was conducted for the second time in conjunction with Education New Zealand and Universities New Zealand - Te Pōkai Tara. It benchmarks all eight New Zealand universities.



This annual report developed by Studymove provides New Zealand universities with a detailed analysis of their internationalisation strategies at the national and individual university level. 


This year the analysis showed an impressive result for New Zealand universities in the area of international student recruitment.

All eight New Zealand universities reported a growth in the number of international student enrolments on-campus and revenue generated from international student fees in 2016. A very positive result for New Zealand!

An important element of the benchmarking exercise was the inclusion of international student mobility strategies. There is great interest among the New Zealand Universities and the New Zealand Government to increase the opportunities for students to undertake a learning abroad experience and the report gives a very interesting insight that will be useful for future policy development at all levels. 
The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the recruitment strategies executed by all eight New Zealand universities. Below we present some of the highlights of the analysis.

Enrolments, Revenue and Impact to the New Zealand Economy

The eight New Zealand universities generated an aggregate revenue of NZ$391.3 million from international student fees (on-campus) in 2016. All eight universities also reported an increment in revenue in comparison with the previous year. In aggregate, universities reported an increase of 7.9% in revenue compared with 2015. 
In 2016, all eight universities reported growth in international student enrolments with an aggregate of 26,442 international students, an increase of 10.3% in comparison to 2015. 
From the total of international students enrolments, 46% were undergraduate students, 19% were postgraduate students, 18% were research students, 14% were study abroad and exchange students and 3% were unknown.
After combining the results in revenue, international student enrolments and cost of living, we estimated that the 26,442 international students studying at New Zealand universities contributed NZ$1.1 billion to the New Zealand economy during 2016. (1)
This figure confirms that the university sector provides the largest amount of international student fee revenue within the New Zealand international education industry.

New Zealand universities reported grow of 10.3% in international student enrolments in comparison with the previous year.


Percentage of international students on-campus

Another important aspect of this analysis was to estimate the percentage of international students on-campus. In 2016, the eight universities reported an aggregate of 166,687 student enrolments of which 26,442 were international students which represents 16% of the student population.
We can also report that the average percentage of international students in 2016 was 18% and the median was 16% of the student population. These figures are similar to the 18.2% reported by Australian universities in 2016 (2).  

Where has the growth come from?

All eight universities reported the nationality of international students with students coming from more than 57 countries in 2016. 
In 2016, China was the largest source country with 4,644 international students, which represents 36.6% of the total. United States, India, Malaysia and Japan follow representing together 30.4% of the total. These top 5 markets represent almost 67.1% of the total number of international students recruited in 2016.
In 2016, the top regions for the recruitment of international students in aggregate were North East Asia with 43.0%, Americas with 19.4% and South-East Asia with 11.4%.



Seven New Zealand universities provided information on the number of students recruited by agents. In 2016, the average proportion of students via agents for this group of universities was 38.7% and the median was 33.8%.


In 2016, universities paid only 3.7% of their total generated revenue in commissions to education agents. Considering a different metric, universities invested NZ$1,234 in commissions for every international student commencement in 2016.





The study also focuses on assessing international mobility strategies implemented by all New Zealand universities. This analysis assists universities in gaining a better understanding of a future national strategy and what other universities may or may not be doing in this area.


Please note that universities continue to report difficulties in providing complete information in the non-credit area. So, it is likely that the data provided understates the actual participation level at most institutions.


The eight universities reported an aggregate of 2,874 students who participated in Outbound Mobility programs during 2016 in comparison with 2,551 students in 2015. This figure includes New Zealand citizens and international students from all academic levels and includes credit and non-credit Outbound Mobility programs.


To enable calculation of the participation rate, universities are asked to supply data including the total number of completing students. In aggregate, all eight universities reported a participation rate of 4.3% during 2016 in comparison with 4.8% in 2015 for all students. For undergraduate students, the aggregate participation rate in 2016 was 6.1% in comparison to 8.5% in 2015.


In 2016, the top 25 destinations for students in Outbound Mobility Programs (undergraduate and graduate) were United States of America, United Kingdom, China, Canada, Australia, Japan, Do not know/other, Netherlands, France, Korea (South), Singapore, India, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malta, Samoa and Multi-Destination.


The top 5 destinations represented 44% of the total and the top 25 made up 87% of all destinations in 2016.


When grouped by regions, Asia was the most popular region for Outbound Mobility students in 2016. In 2016, the average for Asia as a region was 33.8% in comparison with 24.4% in 2015. Europe was the second most popular region in 2016 with an average of 29.6% in comparison with 34.7% in 2015.



Similar to Australia and the United States, New Zealand universities (seven reporting universities) reported more female students participating in Outbound Mobility programs in both 2015 and 2016.


In 2016, from the 1,781 undergraduate and postgraduate students that the seven universities reported, 1,016 students or 57% of those students were female and 732 students or 41% of students were male students. In addition, universities reported that 2% were of unknown gender.


Funding and support

Universities were asked to report how much they received and are allocating in funding to support student participation in Outbound Mobility programs. There were three categories of funding: Government funding, Institutional funding and Private funding.


Government funding- Six universities indicated that they received funding via the Prime Minister's Scholarship for Asia and Latin America to support students’ participation in Outbound Mobility programs.


Private funding- Universities reported on the amount of funding they received from private organisations or foundations in New Zealand to support outbound international mobility strategies. Two universities reported that they do not receive any private funding and three universities reported that this question did not apply to their university. Two universities reported that they do receive some funding from private organisations or foundations in New Zealand and that amount of private funding in 2016 varied from NZ$17,000 to NZ$20,000.


Institutional funding- Universities reported on how much university funding, whether from the centre of the university or from faculties, was allocated to fund outbound international mobility of New Zealand university students. Five universities reported how much university funding was allocated to outbound international mobility, one university reported how much university funding was allocated to fund exchanges and two universities indicated that this question was not applicable to their university. The amount of institutional funding varied from NZ$20,000 to NZ$300,000 in 2016.

Additional Notes:

[1] Using cost of living calculations from Infometrics and National Research Bureau (NRB), The Economic Impact of International Education in New Zealand 2015/16, 2016, New Zealand.

[2] Data from Department of Education, Australian Government (2016).




Studymove is an education consultancy specialising in the development of business intelligence reports, domestic and international benchmarking exercises and online marketing strategies for the international education industry. It was established in 2007 and in the last 10 years, we have been contracted to work on various small and large projects by institutions from Australia, Europe, Latin America, New Zealand and USA.


Our highly qualified and experienced team are experts in the development and implementation of specific solutions to support and enhance international student recruitment and mobility strategies. Our work is widely recognised for its analytical excellence and innovation.


More information about Studymove and their current projects is available via our website: www.studymove.com

Please contact Keri Ramirez, Managing Director of Studymove for more information:


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Telephone:      +612 6100 4121

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