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Overseas students coming to the southern region to study in secondary schools and tertiary institutions have brought $310million to the local economy and supported 3450 jobs, new Government research shows.
Nationwide, the economic value of international education is $5.1billion, making it the country's fourth largest export.
About 6460 tertiary students and secondary pupils studied in Otago during the 2017-18 financial year, bringing $250million to the region - up 66% from the amount recorded in 2016.
In Southland, 1434 students/pupils studied in the region during 2017-18, bringing $60million to the local economy - up 78% from 2016.
Otago Secondary Principals' Association secretary Gavin Kidd said New Zealand was perceived as a safe and attractive country with a very sound education system.
''I think Otago has got a reputation for being able to provide high quality and responsive education for international students, and that will continue to attract even more international students.''
As well as boosting the local economy, it also boosts the finances of schools because pupils have to pay to study here.
It is one of the reasons why many schools actively market themselves to overseas parents and pupils.
University of Otago vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne said the university's growth overall was ''extremely heartening'' for everyone at the institution.
Its latest figures show a 111 EFTS increase in full-fee international enrolment, a 7.5% gain on 2017.
Otago Polytechnic global engagement director Marc Doesburg said there had been an 8% increase in international students for the past two years, and a similar rise was forecast for 2019.
He said the polytechnic's biggest international markets were China and India. East Asia and Latin America were also areas of focus for Otago Polytechnic.
''We are also seeing a slow, but steady, engagement with North America, where there is an emphasis on short courses.
The international education statistics, released by Education Minister Chris Hipkins yesterday, showed $4.8billion was attributed to international students visiting New Zealand and $300million to education and training goods and services delivered offshore.
Not included in the $5.1billion was the amount spent by tourists visiting friends and family who were studying in New Zealand. This was calculated to be $460million.
The data also showed 49,631 jobs were supported by the international education sector.
This was made up of 47,490 jobs connected to visiting students, and a further 2141 jobs (973 in New Zealand and 1168 offshore) from offshore activity in 2017.
-Additionally reported by Elena McPhee