Hawke's Bay could have more international student enrolments after international education agents checked out the region recently.
Groundwork being done now could bring an extra 300-plus students into the region yearly, taking the total to about 1600 spread over 12 schools and six tertiary institutions.
Each student is estimated to spend between $25,000 and $30,000 a year including school fees, homestay payments and general purchases. It is common for students' families to visit at least once while they study, adding a tourism element.
The benefits are not only economic, says Education Hawke's Bay business development manager Stephanie Kennard.
"Having international students in our classrooms enriches the lives of our students. Studying alongside a child from China, Taiwan, Germany or Brazil enhances our social and cultural understanding; it enriches our children's experience at school."
Study visas noting Hawke's Bay as the destination were up by 26 per cent in the quarter ended March 2016 compared with the same three months the year before.
Part of the process is "selling" the region, and education agents were in Hastings and Napier two weeks ago to see what was on offer for students from China, Thailand, Spain and Brazil. The group had morning tea with Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule after a formal greeting, then then toured several schools and institutions including Lindisfarne College, Iona College, Woodford House and Hereworth School. They also sampled some of the region's tourism highlights including a trip up Te Mata Peak.
The agents were at the International Student Agent Expo in Melbourne in April when they expressed an interest in Hawke's Bay, particularly local tourist activities, hospitality and culture, as well as the schools and tertiary institutions.
Ms Kennard says bringing all the schools together to market their services is very cost-effective.
"It means that at educational expos or when we are hosting agents we can offer the various benefits of our institutions. They are quite different, and actually they work very well together."
Education Hawke's Bay is funded by tertiary institutions and schools and comes under the aegis of Education NZ. Teaching establishments can become members of Education Hawke's Bay if they are signatories to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.
International students spend about $3 billion a year in New Zealand. The aim is to take that up to $5b and the regions are expected to be a big part of that.
Ms Kennard said Hawke's Bay has unique offerings that strongly appeal to students' parents, particularly those wishing to have their son or daughter study in a safe city, experience the local culture and practice their English.