Immigration plays an important role in facilitating New Zealand’s international education industry – a key pillar in New Zealand’s overall economic, social and cultural development. International education contributes more than NZ$2 billion annually to New Zealand’s gross domestic product, and supports around 32,000 jobs.
Revenue to education providers from international fee-paying students for the year ended 31 December 2011 was NZ$732 million.
International students who choose to apply for residence play an important role in the New Zealand labour market, particularly if they are qualified and employed in areas with skill shortages. About 20 per cent of fee-paying international students go on to obtain residence in New Zealand.
Around 100,000 international students live and study in New Zealand each year.
In the year ended 31 December 2011, the largest source countries of students were China (23 per cent), South Korea (13 per cent), and India (13 per cent).
For 2011, international student numbers increased by 6 per cent throughout most regions in New Zealand and income from tuition revenues rose by 3.3 per cent.
In addition, there was an increase in student numbers from some of our key regions including China, India and Saudi Arabia.
Although there was a drop in Canterbury of 37 per cent, numbers were stable overall with only a minor decrease of 0.5 per cent.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) works in partnership with other agencies to support the international education industry.
We have introduced several policy changes aimed at attracting more of the best and brightest international students to stay in New Zealand so that they can drive economic growth through increased productivity and innovation.
The changes target higher-level students and move immigration incentives away from short, lower-level qualifications, to ensure that those students who choose to stay here are better positioned to take up genuinely skilled employment.
These changes include:
As a package, the changes better support growth in the international education industry and New Zealand’s wider economic, social and cultural objectives.
Our worldwide network of branches processes student visa applications lodged overseas, while our Palmerston North Student Branch processes most foreign fee-paying applications lodged in New Zealand.
Reflecting the importance of the international education industry to the New Zealand economy, we have undertaken various initiatives to improve our processing of the 49,000 student applications received annually in New Zealand. This will particularly improve processing times during the peak processing months of February, March and July, when an average of nearly 10,000 applications are received each month.
Initiatives to expedite processing include:
We are also encouraging students:
Our aim is to ensure we have the capacity and capability to deal with all applications in a timely manner, particularly at peak processing times. This enables us to meet our commitment to 48-hour processing of online applications lodged through Students Online partners, and to deciding 90 per cent of all applications (including manual applications) within 25 days; subject to applicants meeting health, character and other standard requirements.