By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

In Study Travel Magazine’s news coverage this week was a timely reminder of the value and importance of the international education industry. A report commissioned by Education New Zealand (ENZ) calculated the total contribution of this sector to the country as NZ$2.6 billion in 2012, making it the fifth largest export industry.

ENZ releases such industry value reports every five years, and it struck me that the longer timeframe comparisons that it makes afforded an opportunity to take stock of where New Zealand’s sector is at. Periodic data releases on international student enrolments over the last year or two have underlined declines, caused by a high dollar and the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.

This report does highlight that despite recent decreases, the industry is in better shape than it was five years ago, with more full fee-paying international students than in 2007-08 and greater overall value of the industry.

Constant rises in student numbers are of course the ideal scenario, but it is worth taking a long view when things aren’t going so well.

Elsewhere this week, we have heard that the strikes by Canada’s Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (Pafso) have come to an end after a tentative agreement with the government. This will no doubt come as a huge relief to international educators in Canada and agents sending to this destination.

The full impact of the rotating strikes at embassies around the world is as yet unclear. The longest running federal public strike since the introduction of collective bargaining in 1967 was certainly bad timing for the study abroad industry – running through the summer season and the lead up to the start of the academic term. Canada will be hoping no longer-term reputational damage has been caused.

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