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Advancing international education

New Zealand universities are some of the most internationalised in the world, with all New Zealand universities ranked in the top 3% worldwide.

Approximately 27,700 international students are enrolled in NZ university programmes – 95% at bachelor’s degree level or higher (40% in postgraduate qualifications). New Zealand universities are committed to offering high-quality provision to high-calibre international students. This approach is paying off – 93% of international university students choose to study in NZ because of the strong reputation of our universities. International education is now New Zealand’s 5th largest export earner generating $4.47b for New Zealand’s economy, of which universities contribute over $1 billion each year. 

New Zealand universities are committed to advancing international education in a variety of ways including internationalisation of the curriculum, the student experience, and collaboration and cooperation in research and teaching. New Zealand universities have a large number of global connections with universities, international research organisations, and other associations to drive international research collaboration, academic staff exchange, as well as student mobility programmes for both incoming and outgoing students.

Some key facts

  • All New Zealand universities are ranked amongst the world’s best by QS World University Rankings and Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 1,2
  • Our universities rank in the world’s top 100 in 39 out of a possible 46 subjects. 1
  • The OECD 2013 Better Life Index rates NZ as a "top performing country" for the quality of its education system.3
  • In a ranking of international outlook indicators (proportion of international staff, proportion of international students and proportion of research papers published with at least one co-author from another country), 7 out of 8 New Zealand universities featured in the top 200, with AUT University ranked highest at 12th in the world. 4
  • 93% of international university students choose to study in NZ because of the strong reputation of our universities. 5
  • 27,690 international students (16% of all university students), similar to the proportion in universities in countries like Australia and the UK. 6
  • International Education is NZ’s 5th largest export earner, generating $4.47 billion in 2016. Universities alone generate over $1.1 billion annually. 7
  • For every $1m spent by international students, GDP is increased by $1.6m – supporting more than 30,000 jobs. 8
  • Citizenship of international students enrolled in NZ universities (Top 10 countries): China – 43%; USA – 9%, India – 6%; Malaysia – 6%; Vietnam – 3%; Saudi Arabia – 2%; Korea (Republic of) – 2%; Japan – 2%; Germany – 1%. 9
  • NZ universities attract high-calibre international students: 16% are studying at PhD level. Overall, around 40% are enrolled in postgraduate qualifications.10
  • Half of all international PhD students say they plan to work in NZ after graduation – most in education and training, healthcare, and science and technology. 11
  • Research suggests that more than half of early career academics (within the first seven years of their first permanent academic appointment) in NZ universities were born overseas. 12

Related news

Want to know more?

[1] QS World University Rankings, 2016-2017.

[2] Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-2017.

[3] “OECD Better Life Index: Country Reports” (2013).

[4] Times Higher Education “The world’s most international universities 2016”.

[5] I-Graduate International Insight, 2015. “International Barometer Survey: University sector results 2015”. Available from

[6] Education Counts, Tertiary Statistics. ENR.25-27 “International students by sub-sector and region of citizenship 2008-2016”. 2016 data.

[7] Media Statement, Hon Steven Joyce, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (8 November 2016). 

[8] NZIER report to Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara, 2016. “Economic impact of universities: An analysis of the contribution of New Zealand universities to economic activity”.

[9] Education Counts, Tertiary Statistics. ENR.27 “Top 20 countries of citizenship for international students by sub-sector and qualification level 2016”.

[10] Education Counts, Tertiary Statistics. ENR.26 “International students by sub-sector, region of citizenship and qualification level 2016.”

[11] Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand, 2012. “Extended Baseline Report: Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand, 4 April 2012”.

[12] Sutherland, K et al, 2013. “Success in Academia? The experiences of early career academics in New Zealand universities”. Ako Aotearoa National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence/Victoria University of Wellington.

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