Education providers want to get the ball rolling for international students, and say it'll take a decade to rebuild the industry.
The sector previously brought in $5 billion a year, with an average annual intake of 120,000 students.
Education New Zealand chief Grant McPherson told Mike Hosking having a strong intake next year will help build momentum.
"You're looking at multiple years to fill the pipeline again. There's lead time of about 18 months to make that decision and then planning to get here.