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Dunedin's education sector is working on an ambitious plan to boost the city's economy by more than $160 million a year by attracting more international students.
The plan comes as the Government places increasing pressure on tertiary institutions to raise international student numbers, with an aim to double the economic value of New Zealand's international education sector to $5 billion by 2025.
Despite falling numbers, international students at the University of Otago spent almost $45 million on tuition fees last year.
The new plan, which forms part of Dunedin's economic development strategy, aims to double the value international education brings to the city's economy to $330 million a year by 2023.
The figure was included in a briefing updating progress on the plan - called ''project education uplift'' - by the city's newly appointed export education co-ordinator, Sarah Gauthier.
In the briefing, Ms Gauthier outlined how the city could sell itself as a ''premier study destination'' for international students.
This involved the city's tertiary and secondary institutions, as well as private businesses, working together on the ''Study Dunedin'' brand.
The project would support sending shared delegations to China, Japan and South America and encourage students to stay in the city longer and gain work experience at local businesses.
The need to expand the city's economy through international education was obvious.
''As an education-focused city, with exceptional tertiary institutions, secondary schools, specialised providers and education technology companies, it's easy for us to appreciate Dunedin's strength as a study destination and source of educational expertise,'' she said in the briefing.
The project's advisory board includes Otago University international pro-vice chancellor Prof Helen Nicholson, Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker and communications director Mike Waddell, Otago Girls' High School principal Linda Miller and ADInstruments chief executive Michael Macknight.
Mr Waddell said the project was partly about ''efficient use of scarce resources''.
''The key challenge here is to forget about being competitive. There is enough business in the world for everybody in Dunedin.''
Boosting student numbers could also expand the city's economy by increasing links with overseas businesses.
The strategy had been supported through $50,000 from Education New Zealand, a Government agency which promotes the country to international students, and $45,000 from the council's Grow Dunedin partnership.
• On average, each contributed $42,000 a year to Otago's economy.
• Contribute more than $165m to Otago's economy, which is 6% of the region's GDP.
• University of Otago international students spent almost $45m on tuition fees alone last year.