Visa applications for first-time students have dropped by nearly 25% since 2009, down from 46,000 to 34,700.
Immigration New Zealand has cut visa processing times and extended visitor working rights, in an effort to boost numbers.
General manager Stephen Dunstan said the measures are working and the fall in numbers is due to other factors such as the global recession, the earthquakes in Christchurch and the high New Zealand dollar.
Mr Dunstan said further streamlining of the application process is needed to attract new student visitors.
March 8 ’ 2013