The proposal to build a $60 million Chinese school in Dunedin
has the potential to divert Asian international fee-paying
pupils away from state secondary schools in Dunedin, which
some principals believe could have a significant impact on
the city's schools.
Schools have estimated each international pupil contributes
up to $30,000 to the local economy through school tuition,
accommodation, school uniforms and school trips, as well as
Some of that money is used by schools to bolster their
finances - a practice carried out by New Zealand secondary
schools for many years.
Logan Park High School principal Jane Johnson was extremely
cautious about offering support to the proposed Chinese
school, because so little was known about it.
''I'm very cautious, because I would like to know more about
''Is it a school just for Chinese students only, or, if it's
an international school, will other ethnicities be permitted
to go, and will it be a private school?''
She also questioned what curriculum the school would provide.
''How will it be set up? I need to know a lot of those
parameters before I can safely commit.
''It could take students away from secondary schools, but
then it might bring students, if they stay in Dunedin and New
Zealand to take tertiary options, university and polytech.
''Just how it will pan out, we don't know at this stage.''
She said it could either be quite beneficial, or it could
have a negative impact on recruitment of international
''It's hard to tell.''
''Certainly, the education scene has become a lot more
diverse, but I would always want to protect the state system.
''This initiative is certainly an interesting one,'' she
Otago Girls' High School principal Linda Miller said the
school enrolled more than 30 international fee-paying pupils
from Asia each year, and agreed the proposed Chinese school
could divert Asian fee-paying pupils away from state schools.
But she said the reality was the Chinese market was
''massive'' and she believed there would be plenty of room
for the new school and state schools to maintain
international pupil numbers.
''The advantage of Chinese students coming to secondary
schools such as we've got in Dunedin at present, would be
that they would be mixing with Kiwi students and getting a
greater level of immersion into Kiwi culture and learning
English language,'' Mrs Miller said.
''Presumably, parents sending their children here want them
to have that English-based education and I believe that New
Zealand schools would provide that much better than an
international school that is solely populated by Chinese
Bayfield High School is one of the city's largest recruiters
of international pupils. Last year, the school had more than
70 international fee-paying pupils.
Principal Judith Forbes said she, too, was unconcerned about
the financial impact of competition for international pupils
''It's a different package that they [the Chinese school] are
offering, compared to what Kiwi secondary schools are
''It's providing a different choice for Chinese families.''
She said Dunedin secondary schools would be doing their own
recruiting of pupils in different markets.
''I think that it's a good thing for the city, because having
an international school here is another way of promoting