International school spin-offs

Phil Ker
Phil Ker
A proposed $60 million international school for Dunedin would have positive spin-offs for the city's tertiary and secondary providers, Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker says.

''I think this is a project [we need] to get across the line and it's one for the whole city to get in behind,'' Mr Ker said yesterday.

Mr Ker's comments come after details about the project, which is backed by Chinese investors, were revealed in yesterday's Otago Daily Times.

The project, if it proceeded, could attract hundreds of pupils to the city each year, as well as creating hundreds of jobs and pumping ''tens of millions'' of dollars into the city's economy each year.

It is understood it would cater for wealthy families wanting their children to receive an international education, allowing pupils at a secondary school level to live in the facility while studying an international syllabus.

Mr Ker said the project was ''very exciting'' for the city and especially the polytechnic and University of Otago.

''I have got no doubts in my mind that if we have got a significant new facility here to bring international students in, that a proportion of those students will pipeline into tertiary.''

Rather than taking away international pupils from secondary schools, Mr Ker felt it would lead to the creation of a ''critical mass'' of international education providers in the city.

''I think it's a bit like creating a restaurant district. The old story of, if you have one restaurant you have X customers, if you have two restaurants and you have twice X customers,'' he said.

The polytechnic had not been involved in the project, but Mr Ker was confident both it and the university would meet investors next time they were in town.

''We will all be around the table next time around.''

The school would also feed into the city's economic development strategy, part of which was about developing export education.

University international pro-vice chancellor Prof Helen Nicholson said the university welcomed initiatives that facilitated closer links with China and provided an opportunity to attract more Chinese students to Otago.

However, it had not been directly involved in discussions and had no financial interest in the project.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said the tertiary sector and other Dunedin institutions would be involved in the next ''phase'' of discussions, which would hopefully take place around April.


Making the most of Dunedin's new international school (2)

Trev, I would like to see this school lead the way in showing how students from diverse, sometimes conflicting nations can meet and learn to get on well with one another.

Antipodean New Zealand is geographically remote from other parts of the world, including parts where tensions are endemic. I see this as a great comparative advantage to make the most of.  So, instead of being drawn into emerging, partisan Asia-Pacific military (and nuclear) infrastructures, nuclear-free New Zealand could develop constructive communications-brokering roles.

To answer your question directly Trev, as you may know Taiwan and China have just begun dialogue with each other, and it would be wonderful to develop the skills, connecting abilities and actual connections to support this kind of development -  as could perhaps be begun at the proposed Dunedin school. More details about communications-building infrastructures that could be developed from New Zealand can be read in these 2 village-connections blogs:

Fears China Diaoyu/Japan Senkaku Stand-off could lead to World War 3 @

Innovative Sister City Networking for Global Solutions @


That school

Antipodean villager: I assume you would also like to see Taiwanese students at the school? And would they be allowed to attend?

Making the most of Dunedin's new international school

Congratulations to the Otago Chamber of Commerce for brokering arrangements for a new international school in Dunedin. This development is also the fruit of Dunedin's 20 year sister city relationship with Shanghai, and the school is intended for at least Chinese students.

The concept for the school is still under discussion, and it is great that Dunedin's tertiary institutes will be a part of this.

Logan Park High School principal Jane Johnson asks some very useful questions:

''Is it a school just for Chinese students only, or, if it's an international school, will other ethnicities be permitted to go ...?'' and "She also questioned what curriculum the school would provide." ("Some caution from principals" in the ODT, 6 Feb 2014)

Might I offer two suggestions?

1. Why not look to involve more than just Chinese students? As well as accepting Kiwi students, why not really internationalise the school by encouraging students from elsewhere, particularly including, for instance, the United States (possibly including from Dunedin's sister city of Portsmouth - doing this might also help to revive that dormant sister relationship).

Then Kiwi students also attending could learn first-hand not only about Chinese students and how to relate well to them, but also about how international students from other parts of the world understand and relate to each other. This brings me to my second suggestion.

2. When conversations are held with the University of Otago, could the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies be included? Could it make some useful suggestions, and perhaps contribute to educational programmes involving such international students alongside Kiwi ones?

It seems to me that such moves could enable Dunedin to produce some highly internationally savvy students who could contribute so much more to regional understanding in all walks of life, including diplomacy as well as business.