13 February 2024 at 10:30 am

International education delivers for New Zealand communities and visiting students

International education is delivering for both the international students and the New Zealand communities in which they study and live.  

College students chemistry 4

These are the key findings of two ENZ research projects to measure the student experience and the views New Zealanders hold towards international education. 

Student experience in New Zealand 

In the 2023 International Student Experience survey of 4,755 international students from more than 70 nationalities, 84 percent rated their overall experience positively, while another 83 percent said they would recommend New Zealand as a study destination. 

Students were most positive about their personal development and outcomes, with 87 percent saying the experience helped encourage their curiosity and develop new ideas. Students were also very positive (88 percent) about the people and connections they made in New Zealand. 

New Zealand was the first choice of study destination of 78 percent of respondents and 64 percent said their New Zealand experience had met or exceeded their expectations, which is consistent with previous research. 

Commenting on the results, ENZ Student Experience Manager, Ross Crosson, said the results showed that New Zealand’s ability to deliver a quality education to international students had remained strong through the recent pandemic, and boded well for further recovery of the sector. 

“The strong preference of students for New Zealand as a place where they can obtain a high-quality education while enjoying unique personal development really shone through in the student experience survey. It was heartening to hear about students growing their confidence because of their study experience in the country 

We now want to make sure we’re using insights from the survey to inform our work – to ensure New Zealand continues to be the open, inclusive, and welcoming study destination it is known to be. 

ENZ’s Director Insights, Marie Clark, says the survey is a significant undertaking for ENZ and is an important resource for the international education sector. 

"For one, it’s the only national survey of international students or indeed even students. We now have the beginnings of a valuable timeseries of data going back to 2019. 

"It's important to be able to surface international student insights based on all sorts of variables, including country, sector or gender or a combination of these. We hope people working in the sector will find the sub-sector deep dives and Tableau dashboards particularly insightful resources,” she says. 

The International Student Experience Survey 2023 Report is available here on IntelliLab. 

Local benefits 

In an ENZ survey of 1,100 New Zealanders conducted in December last year, 75 percent of respondents believe that international students benefit New Zealand. 

The Ipsos Fast Facts survey, which drew responses from all regions of the country, saw 80 percent of respondents highlighting economic benefits, particularly in local communities, as a key reason for their positive viewLocal and cultural contributions were also noted with 81 percent saying international students help local students learn about other cultures and ways of living, and contribute to New Zealand’s cultural diversity.  

The results of the 2023 survey highlighted the continuing growth in support for international students and their positive impact on New Zealand since 2016 when only 57 percent believed international students helped the New Zealand economy and economic growth. 

The proportion of New Zealanders who feel that international students make it harder for New Zealanders to get jobs also decreased from 34 percent in 2018 to 24 percent in 2023. 

However, some respondents expressed concern that some international students use the New Zealand education system as a means to residency, while 32 percent felt New Zealand’s infrastructure in housing, transport and medical services is not well equipped to allow for international students. 

Marie said the positive result from the domestic survey was also good news. 

“International students have always been a significant contributor to regional economies. It is particularly pleasing that there is strong awareness and support of the cultural exchanges that happen when international students learn alongside New Zealand students and participate in our communities. While the research identified some challenges, the definite trend in awareness of the benefits international students bring to New Zealand is very positive for the future.”

What's in it for me?