WELLINGTON, July 5 (Xinhua) -- China and India have driven a 13-percent rise in the number of international students studying in New Zealand last year, according to a government report out Tuesday.
The number of international student enrolments rose by 14,748 to total of 125,011, said the report by Education New Zealand, the government agency for the promotion of international education.
China accounted for 27 percent of all enrolments, while India accounted for 23 percent - together making up half the total.
Tuition fee income received from international education topped 1 billion NZ dollars (720.7 million U.S. dollars) for the first time in 2015, rising 17 percent year on year to 1.029 billion NZ dollars (741.18 million U.S. dollars).
The total value of New Zealand education exports was 3.1 billion NZ dollars (2.23 billion U.S. dollars) for the year to March this year.
"The benefits of international education extend well beyond the economic contribution to the economy," Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce said in a statement.
"Young New Zealanders live and learn alongside people from other countries, increasing their understanding of other cultures and boosting our links with the world. These links are vital for us to prosper in an increasingly Asia-Pacific world."
The fastest growing markets for New Zealand education last year were India with a 45-percent increase in enrolments and China, which was up 13 percent.
However, student visa trends for the year to May 2016, also released Tuesday, showed a 5-percent decline in first-time student visas, and a 22-percent decline in first-time student visas from India.
"The decline in numbers from India reflects the new higher English language rules put in place in October last year and tighter enforcement of the rules by Immigration New Zealand. Growth in numbers from China, S. Korea, Japan, Germany, Malaysia and Vietnam has largely offset the drop in numbers from India," said Joyce.
International education was New Zealand's fifth largest export sector and supported more than 30,000 jobs for New Zealanders.
Education New Zealand is aiming to grow the economic value of the sector to 5 billion NZ dollars (3.59 billion U.S. dollars) by 2025.