Bayfield High School international fee-paying pupils (from
left) Cedric Ingemey (14), of Germany, Karen Cuche (17), of
Switzerland, and Valentin Heusgen (15), of Germany, with
some of the more than 70 international fee-paying pupils at
the school. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
The number of international fee-paying pupils enrolling
in Otago secondary schools has plummeted 42% in the past
decade, prompting some principals to warn the drop may cause a
financial deficit for some schools if the trend continues.
In 2003, there were 703 international pupils enrolled in
Otago schools. That number dropped to 495 last year.
Nationally, the number has nearly halved, from 17,574 in 2003
to 8936 in 2012.
Although the 2003 figures represented the peak of
international fee-paying pupil numbers in Otago during the
past 15 years, Otago Secondary Principals' Association (OSPA)
secretary Gordon Wilson said he was surprised by the steep
He believed several factors had influenced the figures, such
the global financial crisis, the Christchurch earthquakes and
the Sars virus.
Many schools had recently made significant connections with
overseas schools - particularly in Shanghai - and he believed
these links would eventually bring more pupils to Otago.
OSPA immediate past president Brent Russell believed each
international pupil contributed up to $30,000 to the local
economy through school tuition, accommodation, school
uniforms and school trips as well as personal spending.
Parents of international fee-paying pupils who came to visit
did the same through spending on flights, accommodation and
other living expenses.
''International students have been bolstering the finances of
secondary schools around the country for many years,'' Mr
''If we didn't have them, our deficits would be even worse
than what they are.''
Bayfield High School principal Judith Forbes said much of the
money brought into her school by international fee-paying
pupils was used to pay for extra staffing. But if IFP pupil
numbers dropped too low, schools might not be able to provide
extra teaching staff or extra learning opportunities for all
pupils, because the Ministry of Education did not provide
''It shouldn't be like that. International students should
not be propping up the education system.''
She believed the pupils enrolled at Bayfield High School
because they were treated as people, not simply sources of
revenue. Despite the nationwide downward trend, Bayfield's
IFP numbers remained high. Overseas parents, pupils and their
agents ''shop around'' when choosing a foreign school for
their children to attend, she said.
''You have to provide good homestays, excellent pastoral
care, good academic results and a wide range of
opportunities. They look in quite a lot of detail at each
potential school, and each student that returns from a New
Zealand school gives feedback to the agent.
''So, there is a massive level of word of mouth.''