International Fee Payees
The fall in international fee-paying (IFP) pupil numbers
in Otago schools appears to be reversing, alleviating fears
schools could suffer financial difficulty.
Earlier this year, Ministry of Education figures showed the
number of IFP pupils enrolled in Otago schools had dropped
42% in the past decade, from 703 in 2003 to 495 in 2012.
Nationally, the number was nearly halved, from 17,574 in 2003
to 8936 in 2012.
However, Ministry of Education statistics now show the number
of IFP pupils in Otago has surpassed last year's total,
reaching 527, and that number was expected to grow further
before the end of the year.
Dunstan High School principal Brent Russell believed each IFP
pupil contributed up to $30,000 to the local economy through
school tuition, accommodation, school uniforms, trips and
He believed their parents contributed similar amounts to the
local economy through spending on flights, accommodation and
other living expenses when they came to visit.
''International students have been bolstering the finances of
secondary schools around the country for many years.
''If we didn't have them, our deficits would be even worse
than what they are.
''Certainly, the presence of international students in our
school improves our financial situation. That's why it's so
crucial we maintain our market share,'' Mr Russell said.
Bayfield High School principal Judith Forbes said the concern
earlier this year was, 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 enough funding.
While the recent increase in IFP pupil numbers had allayed
these fears to a degree, she said many schools would be
waiting for next year's IFP numbers before making any large
''Probably all Dunedin schools are still very wary.''
She said this year, Bayfield had 66 IFP pupils, and staff
members recently returned from Japan, Germany and Italy,
where they had been promoting the school to potential IFP
Numbers for next year were looking good, she said.
Many principals believed several factors were influencing the
IFP figures, such as the global financial crisis, the
Christchurch earthquakes and the Sars virus.
While some believed the upward trend signified the global
economy was returning to normal, and the fears of earthquakes
and viruses were fading, Mr Russell said the increase was
probably down to simple marketing.
''I would guess, numbers have increased because people have
gone out and marketed their area and/or school overseas.
''You can't just sit back and wait for them to come to you.''
Mrs Forbes endorsed the importance of marketing.
She said overseas parents, pupils and their agents shopped
around when choosing a foreign school for their children to
attend, and it was important to provide good homestays,
excellent pastoral care, good academic results and a wide
range of opportunities.