International students contribute $20 million to Taranaki economy
Foreign students pumped $20 million into Taranaki's economy during 2015-16, new government research into the benefits of international education says.
Education New Zealand (ENZ) commissioned eight regional reports as part of its Regional Partnership Programme aiming to support the development of the industry and ensure smaller communities were able to see the benefits of the sector.
The report said there were 725 international students studying in Taranaki who each spent on average $31,638 annually. This was made up of living costs of $21,669 and tuition fees of $9969, which resulted in a net contribution of $20m to the region's economy.
Five students were studying at primary or intermediate schools, 115 at secondary schools, 318 at private training institutions and 287 at tertiary providers in the region.
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The Pacific International Hotel Management School (PIHMS) and Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki are the region's biggest facilities catering for foreign students.
A ENZ spokeswoman said the average living costs were calculated using information students supplied in a survey.
The total economic value to New Zealand from the international education industry was $4.28 billion, making it the country's fourth largest export industry.
Witt CEO Barbara George said the institution had about 200 international students who made up a small but important section of its community.
George said the polytech was an attractive option for those looking to get into the hospitality industry or work in engineering and roading.
Last year George visited China aiming to build relationships and increase the number of students from the country while another delegation also visited India to maintain its relationships with institutions there.
A Brazilian delegation visited Witt in June 2016 to view tertiary study and pathway options into industry such as engineering, it was the only institute outside of the metropolitan cities they visited.
Rachael Berndt, Venture Taranaki study coordinator, said foreign students made a significant contribution to the region's economy and there was room to expand.
"It's probably something that goes under the radar a little bit," Berndt said.
The institutions providing international education were under the cap on student numbers and there was also potential for others to open, she said.
"There's heaps of room to certainly grow that number. There's heaps of knowledge within the region from other schools that can be used to help other people get on board."
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith welcomed the findings.
"These findings help give us a more complete picture and gain a deeper understanding of the economic outcomes our regions are seeing due to the growth of international education, as well as where the opportunities lie," Goldsmith said.
"International education is a significant export industry for New Zealand, and it is important that we know whether the benefits delivered are worth the investment made by government and our regions."