Immigration New Zealand figures show fewer than 12,000 foreign students remain in the country.
That is down from nearly 52,000 when the pandemic started two years ago.
However, the University of Auckland's 2021 annual report showed that it had a record number of students enrolled last year, including 5391 foreign students, 500 more than in 2020 and only 63 fewer than it had before the pandemic in 2019.
Immigration New Zealand says study visas for half the 11,800 students still here will expire this year.
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The government is allowing 5000 new students into the country from the middle of the year, but no other study visas will be approved until October.
Universities and schools want the border fully reopened sooner, but Education Minister Chris Hipkins said visa processing would not cope.
He said it is not clear how much demand there will be from foreign students.
In a normal year, up to 86,000 people with valid study visas would be in New Zealand at any one time and more than 100,000 over the course of a year.