An International Education Strategy has been launched in Tauranga which aims to further boost the $55 million dollar industry.

Associate Minister of Tertiary Education Louise Upton attended today's event to celebrate initiatives already under way in the Western Bay and promote the five-year strategy that planned to consolidate the Bay's position as a destination of choice for international students.

Education Tauranga regional manager Anne Young said the economic benefits from international students was worth $55m for Tauranga and the Western Bay.

''That is through the tuition fees but also other benefits that come with family coming to visit and the spend the students make while they are here.''

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The strategy was implemented due to significant growth, she said and ''to build on the work we have done and to ensure that what we do in the future benefits the region prosperity and the social, cultural and economic benefits''.

''We have our international students placed from 5-year-olds with their parents right through to bachelor and masters students with University of Waikato.''

Students came from all over the world with Korea making up the largest contribution to the primary school sector while Germany dominated the high schools and India was a significant part of the tertiary market, she said.

But there were significant gains to be made when the new university campus opened in the city, she said.

''There is potential growth because of the new tertiary precinct. At the moment we are under exposed to the China market... that new precinct will allow us to recruit more international students into those bachelor and degree programmes.''

She also believed the cultural and social benefits were even bigger.

''I think one of the key things is people often talk about the economics of it but to me, the social benefits are bigger. New Zealand is such a small country we are at the bottom of the world, and it's really important Kiwi students grow up knowing there is a bigger world out there and have the exposure to international students.''

''They can be sitting in the classroom and giving them a completely new perspective on a different way of life and for me it's really important that our Kiwi students have the opportunity to get that experience.''

Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said international education played a very important role in the region's economic success.

"It not only provides us with economic benefits, but it also enables connections at a business and personal level - and importantly it provides social benefits and exposure to other cultures that many Kiwi students simply wouldn't get otherwise."

"We expect international education to be an increasingly important part of our regional economy, particularly alongside a strengthening tertiary sector."

He said the education sector was a linchpin in the Western Bay's International Strategy, and we were also a pilot city for the Immigration New Zealand's Welcoming Communities programme.