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Consultation has closed on this draft policy statement. This copy of the discussion document is for reference only to provide additional background on the consultation that took place.


High-value international education refers to a system that:

  • Provides excellent education and ākonga/student experience.
  • Targets and attracts ākonga/students in high value markets.
  • Delivers a range of value benefits to New Zealand with minimal risks.

Alongside the provision of international education, a high-value system will promote global citizenship and support opportunities for New Zealand ākonga/students to study abroad.

Key components are defined further below. The component definitions are linked and should therefore be considered together.

Excellent education and ākonga/student experience can be defined as quality programmes (delivered both onshore and offshore) that meet study plans, embedded in a positive overall ākonga/student experience.

Ākonga/students we want to attract are those motivated by education in coming to New Zealand, including those who want to pathway from offshore online study. They have the appropriate academic background, English language proficiency where required, and financial resources to succeed in their study, and provide maximum benefits to New Zealand across a range of areas of value.

High value markets will be identified as specific segments within diversified priority source countries, which may differ based on the profile of ākonga/students, the qualification, the sector and the region of New Zealand in which they wish to study.

Benefits to New Zealand include:

  • Immediate economic value: revenue from international fees and wider ākonga/student spending, and from international education products and services
  • Longer term economic value: longer-term benefits from research & innovation including partnerships, and high levels at human capital with any accompanying work rights and post-study pathways commensurate with potential value to ākonga/students and New Zealand
  • Education system value: benefits to our domestic education system and ākonga/students
  • Cultural value: social and cultural benefits to domestic ākonga/students and wider communities,
  • International relations value: benefits that stem from deepening bilateral relationships through assisting partner countries’ development, supporting international diplomacy and enhancing trade benefits.

Risks to be minimised include:

  • Crown fiscal risks (particularly due to an over-reliance of the domestic system on international education revenue)
  • Compromised quality and reputation of the New Zealand education system, due to:
    • delivery of low-quality programmes
    • low-quality providers with inappropriate ākonga/student recruitment practices
    • poor student support and ākonga/student exploitation in the labour market
  • Compromised wellbeing and safety of ākonga/students
  • Weakening the integrity of the immigration system (e.g. through inappropriate use of international education, seen as a guaranteed path to residence)
  • Providers marketing access to the labour market rather than the education experience
  • Pressures on teacher supply and education capacity
  • Pressure on housing and infrastructure, and labour market impacts
  • International education revenue driving inequities in the domestic education system.

Who and where will we target to maximise value?

Our target markets are yet to be determined, and are likely to vary depending on the type of value we seek to maximise. The table below sets out the types of markets that are likely to contribute the highest value in each category.


Markets and ākonga/students

Immediate economic value

Ākonga/students participating in educational tourism e.g. English language, school tour groups and Study Abroad

Ākonga/students who want to start their New Zealand study experience through offshore study, including transnational education.

Longer term Economic value

Long-term ākonga/students e.g. Secondary school, degree level and above, or ākonga/students who will likely pathway from one level of study to another

Ākonga/students who increase New Zealand’s long-term human capital and labour productivity.

International relations value

A range of priority countries based on diplomacy, development and trade opportunities and/or commitments (e.g. Pacific partners)

Ākonga/students that add to New Zealand’s government to government relationships

Cultural value

A variety of different countries and markets

Markets that support outbound mobility for domestic ākonga/students

Diversification, building higher growth specifically outside of the Auckland region

Education system value

Ākonga/students enrolled in programmes that align with key priorities or areas where New Zealand is world-leading

Taking into account potential changes to policy settings, our target market could include:

  • Ākonga/students enrolled at secondary schools.
  • Ākonga/students enrolled at degree-level or above, particularly in programmes that align with key research and innovation priorities, or areas where New Zealand is world-leading (e.g. agricultural science, earthquake engineering, climate science).
  • Ākonga/students in sub-degree programmes with a strong connection between study and work, and where any work rights meet immigration labour market tests.
  • Ākonga/students in post-graduate and professional degree who increase New Zealand’s long-term human capital and labour productivity.
  • PhD and research masters’ ākonga/students, particularly in priority research & innovation areas.
  • Online and offshore offerings in tertiary education, where education is delivered exclusively online.

Similarly, our target markets could include:

  • Existing markets where there is high demand but re-focussed on market segments that align with the ‘high-value’ definition.
  • Diversification into several emerging or less established markets.
  • Markets where we are seeking to strengthen our bilateral relations.

What does success look like?

A transformed sector will be more resilient and diversified than our pre-COVID sector, with an optimal mix of sectors, modes of delivery (both onshore and offshore), and associated products and services. The transformed sector will have a focus on the system wide value for New Zealand.

We will be recognised by ākonga/students and other governments for our high-quality programmes in New Zealand’s areas of excellence. The education provider meets the study plan of ākonga/students, delivers world-class pastoral care and creates a positive overall experience for ākonga/students. We will offer nuanced work rights and policy options that support ākonga/student integration into our communities, and deliver long-term benefit to New Zealand. We will build global partnerships and support global citizenship goals by supporting outbound mobility, exchanges and scholarships (when it is safe to do so).

Our system will attract ākonga/students who are well prepared to succeed academically and engage with our domestic ākonga/student and communities, some of whom will contribute to New Zealand research and innovation, including global research partnerships, and/or have the specialist skills our labour force needs.

A high-value sector will enhance our domestic education system and provide cultural, social and economic benefits for New Zealanders. It will support internationalisation of the New Zealand curriculum and international exposure and understanding of Te Ao Māori. It will also strengthen cross-national education relationships in all education sub-sectors, and support our diplomatic aid and development objectives through a global network of international alumna and increased outbound mobility for New Zealanders.

How do we get there?

Immediate focus areas

To achieve this ‘high-value’ shift in markets and offerings, our immediate focus includes:

  • bringing in priority ākonga/student cohorts while border restrictions remain in place
  • maintaining established international connections, but with limited market expansion and recruitment while the global COVID-19 situation remains uncertain
  • scenario planning to help identify which markets we will target as borders re-open
  • reviewing key policy and regulatory settings to strengthen the system and the quality of education provision
  • encouraging Crown-owned institutions to give effect to the policy direction once finalised
  • expanding offshore provision as a pathway to onshore study for tertiary ākonga/students, and investigating options to recognise qualifications obtained online.

The government will specifically review work rights and the enrolment of international ākonga/students in primary and intermediate schools. The areas of value indicated in this policy statement may be refined following these reviews.

Longer-term focus areas

To diversify and transform the sector, our longer-term focus includes:

  • refocusing and aligning our marketing and international presence with policy settings
  • diversifying source countries and building relationships with strategic partners
  • promoting outbound mobility and global citizenship initiatives.