26 Oct Do International Students See New Zealand University Tuition Fees as Good Value for Money?
International students considering New Zealand are very likely to view tuition fees as offering good value for money, with 62% of surveyed prospective and current international students considering New Zealand rating NZ tuition fees as offering good (31%) or very good (31%) value for money.
With perceptions of value playing such an important role in the decision-making process, as consistently shown in our annual International Student Survey (affordable fees are the second-most important factor for international students when choosing a course), value is an important advantage for New Zealand against key competitor markets Australia, Canada, the UK, and the USA.
Between 21 September and 12 October 2017, QS Enrolment Solutions (formerly Hobsons Solutions) heard from 302 prospective (919) or current (432) international students to New Zealand in response to an online survey.
The key findings of our analysis are:
- Overall, prospective and current international students coming to New Zealand see tuition fees charged by New Zealand universities as offering good value, second only to Germany and ahead of Canada, Australia, the UK and the USA
- There is a gap in perceptions of value between prospective and current international students in New Zealand, with current students more likely to view their tuition fees as offering poor value for money
- Postgraduate international students generally see New Zealand tuition fees as better value for money than undergraduates.
International students generally see tuition fees charged by New Zealand universities as offering good value for money.
62% of international students considering or studying in New Zealand say tuition fees in the country are good or very good value for money. Just 14% say New Zealand tuition fees are poor or very poor value for money, giving New Zealand a net score of +49.
This result places New Zealand in equal first, with Germany, amongst its key competitor markets, amongst international student considering New Zealand.
Since the results shown here are collected from students considering or already studying in New Zealand, the comparisons with other destinations in the chart below show us the perceptions of this specific group, rather than all international students globally.
These prospects and students are already inclined to view New Zealand in a positive light. For example, international students considering Australia rate New Zealand as offering slightly worse value than Australia, with both countries much better than the UK. Meanwhile, international students considering the UK rate Australia and New Zealand well below the UK in terms of value for money.
This is something of a chicken and egg conundrum: do people choosing New Zealand choose it on the basis of value, or do they ascribe value for money after they’ve already decided that New Zealand is the best choice for them? We believe it’s a little bit of each.
Germany is universally seen as offering the best value
Out of all the international students we surveyed (N=2,731) Germany is the clear leader on perceptions of value for money, with a net positive rating of +49. Canada was second overall, with a net +44 rating.
Why is Germany seen so positively? Well, apart from offering high quality universities, in most German states there are no tuition fees for undergraduate students, including for international students. As QS Top Universities explains, there are small administrative fees each semester, but this is far less than the tuition fees charged in other major international study destinations.
This is an important reason why Germany is, according to QS Top Universities, now the third-most popular destination for international students in the world (behind the US and the UK).
Current students are less positive about New Zealand tuition fees’ value than prospective students
Comparing responses from current and prospective international students to New Zealand, we can see a shift in perceptions of value, with current students significantly less likely to view their fees as very good value for money, and much more likely to view their fees as poor value for money.
The good news is that current international students in New Zealand still view their tuition fees as providing a net positive rating of +26. Not every destination can claim this.
Why is there a gap between perceptions of value for money between prospective and current international students?
Cost of living factors and additional costs are influential here. Many respondents cited high costs of rental accommodation, food, transport and bills, despite being asked specifically about tuition fees. These extra costs add to the financial stress felt by international students, and colour their attitudes.
Poor value perceptions are often driven by comparisons with Europe and domestic student fees
Many people who said New Zealand tuition fees offer poor value for money explained their answer by reference to Europe:
“Studying outside of my home nation and going to anywhere in Europe is much cheaper and the universities are ranked higher in Europe. I would not pay this much money to study in NZ when I can go to a university that is just as good or better and pay half the price” – Female, 22-25, undergraduate, from USA.
“Free education in Europe with higher rankings and scientific ability” – Male, 26-30, postgraduate, from Iran.
Comparisons with fees paid by domestic students were also mentioned by many students, even those who rated New Zealand positively for value:
“Tuition fee in some countries is relatively low. And international students’ fees are much higher than domestic students which makes international students feel unequal. “ Female, 22-25, postgraduate from China. Rated value for money as “somewhat good value”.
Much of the positive feedback suggested that while New Zealand international tuition fees are expensive, it’s worth the investment, and compared to other markets New Zealand is relatively cheaper:
“Tertiary education worldwide is quite expensive however in New Zealand it’s not as expensive for an International Student” – Male, 18-19, undergraduate from South Africa.
Postgraduate international students generally see New Zealand as better value for money than undergraduates.
Comparing the results by level of study shows that postgraduate international students had a more favourable view of the value of New Zealand tuition fees (+52) than undergraduate international students (+43).
This is likely associated with the career-focused degrees most popular with postgraduate international students coming to New Zealand: they are more likely to have a clear career goal in mind and calculating return on investment is more straightforward for this cohort.
Seven out of ten respondents said they would pay more for better qualified teaching staff.
We asked current and prospective New Zealand international students what they would consider paying more for, compared to other universities.
27% said when choosing between universities, they would pay “a lot more” to study at a university with better qualified teaching staff than other universities, with 44% saying they would pay “a little more”.
Seven out of ten would also pay more for better graduate employment outcomes
22% of surveyed students said they would pay “a lot more” to study at a university with a high percentage of graduates in employment within 6 months of graduating, with a further 50% saying they would pay a little more for this.
International students also said they would pay more to choose a university with higher rankings (65%), or one that provides career guidance after graduation (65%). Better facilities (including libraries and sports facilities) than other universities (61%) and more face-to-face teaching hours (60%) were also seen as adding worth paying for.
QS Enrolment Solutions (formerly Hobsons Solutions) conducted an online survey of international students considering or already studying in three major study destinations: the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The survey was conducted between 21 September and 12 October 2017 and 2,731 qualifying responses were received across all destinations – a response rate of 9.2%. 302 respondents were either interested in or currently studying in Australia.