International students have pumped $71 million into Rotorua's economy and supported 740 jobs in just one year.
New research showing the economic benefits of international education for the Bay of Plenty revealed Rotorua hosted 2297 international students in 2017/2018.
Those students contributed $170m to the Bay. The rounded figures show the students contributed $71m and 740 jobs in Rotorua as well as $103m and 1167 jobs in Tauranga.
The Regional Economic Impact Reports showed international students poured $6m into Rotorua schools and just over $64m into other areas of education such as English language centres.
International students injected $5.1 billion into the nationwide economy, making international education New Zealand's fourth-largest export.
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology head of international Peter Richardson said international students brought a "true richness" to student culture.
"For many of our domestic students, this is their first experience of meeting and learning from people of other cultures," he said.
"From a social and cultural impact, it enhances students' broader understanding of international topics."
Richardson said international students increased tourism in the wider Bay of Plenty because many students' families visited the region.
They also generated economic growth and filled job shortages, he said.
International student numbers had increased at Toi Ohomai's Tauranga campus from 108 in 2014 to 289 this year - but dropped at the Rotorua campus to 1181 from 1257 in 2014.
Another 100 international students were expected to be enrolled across the campuses in the November 2018 intake.
Education New Zealand chief executive Grant McPherson said the Bay of Plenty had the sixth-biggest economic value in New Zealand.
"This is a strong result, particularly given this has been achieved without a full university campus," he said.
McPherson said the number of university students was expected to increase when the new University of Waikato campus opened in Tauranga in 2019. "The flow-on of this will no doubt be a growing talent pool for the region."
Waikato University senior deputy vice-chancellor Professor Alister Jones said international students added diversity.
"They support a wide range of jobs, they are making a significant contribution to a multicultural society," he said.
"They open up [Tauranga and Rotorua] to the wider world. They become strong ambassadors for the country and the city they have studied in."
Jones said the $17m students pumped into the city's economy went into hospitality and tourism as well as education.
Education Tauranga regional manager Anne Young said international students contributed to a globally connected community.
"It teaches Kiwi students to be empathetic and understanding, while international students are learning in a classroom so different to their home country," she said.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said international education gave an opportunity for the next generation to learn alongside people from all over the world.
"[It] encourages our young people to look outward and helps them develop global skills valuable for tomorrow's workforce."
Bay of Plenty: $170m
Figures are rounded.
Jobs created from international education
Wider Bay of Plenty: 2020
Number of international students
Wider Bay of Plenty: 4953