New research shows the economic benefits of international education across New Zealand to be in the billions of dollars.
As the country's fourth-largest export industry, international education is worth $4.28 billion to the New Zealand economy.
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller says it's vital for the regions to share in these benefits.
“International education makes a hugely important contribution to regional economies,” he says.
“The Bay of Plenty hosted 4,993 international students in 2015/16. These students contributed $55 million to our local economy and directly supported 494 jobs.”
Toi Ohomai chief executive Dr Leon Fourie agrees it's a high earner for New Zealand.
“If you look at our numbers, they spend roughly $35,000 on average a year on their fees, accommodation, and transport, so there are a lot of benefits from that perspective to the local economy,” says Leon.
“They also contribute to having a diverse population and making our students global citizens. They bring an awareness of global cultures and practices, and broaden our own students' horizons to survive in a global environment.”
The international fees at Toi Ohomai vary between $12,000 and $20,000, and have around a thousand international EFTS (equivalent fulltime students). But Leon says the institute is starting to look at different options when it comes to international students.
“We're currently in the process of diversifying our international portfolio. Toi Ohomai has been quite reliant on the Indian market, as well as the Philippines. Now we're looking at other markets we are present in, but not strong, such as China.
“Many Chinese students are looking to go overseas and study elsewhere, such as New Zealand. The middle class is growing substantially over there, and are looking for other educational opportunities.”