Fears about plummeting
international fee-paying (IFP) pupil numbers in Otago
secondary schools are abating as the latest Ministry of
Education figures show the numbers are stabilising, and even
making a marginal recovery.
When IFP pupil numbers slumped from a 15-year high of 700 in
2003 to 389 in 2006, some Otago principals warned some
schools could fall into a financial deficit if the trend
The concern was shared by principals across the country, with
nationwide IFP pupil numbers dropping from about 17,500 to
7204 over the same time frame.
The plummet was believed to have been influenced by several
factors, including the collapse of some high profile private
schools, resulting in the Chinese Government placing severe
restrictions on activities by New Zealand education
providers, the global financial crisis and the Sars virus.
Many Otago secondary principals said international pupils had
been bolstering their school finances for many years, and if
numbers dropped too low, school deficits would be even worse
than they already were.
It was 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; and parents of international fee-paying
pupils who came to visit did the same through spending on
flights, accommodation and other living expenses.
However, fears about the impact on school budgets have been
eased as recently released ministry statistics show the
numbers are stabilising, with an average of 472 IFP pupils
enrolling each year in Otago secondary schools, and an
average of 7812 nationwide.
During the past two years, the numbers have increased by 5%,
from 487 in 2012 to 511 in 2013. It is a trend reflected
Otago Secondary Principals' Association chairman Mason
Stretch was pleased the numbers appeared to be settling, and
was delighted there had been a minor increase in 2013.
He believed a contributing factor was the resurgence of the
''The global recession has certainly moved on.
''That was probably a major part of it, especially with our
major markets where our students are coming from.
''I don't think there has been any difference in terms of
school promotion or New Zealand-led national promotion.
''I think it's a function of things beyond our control
really. It's been caused by global factors,'' Mr Stretch
saidNumbers at his school, Cromwell College, had dropped by
more than 50% several years ago, but the school was slowly
building the numbers back up again, he said.
An Education New Zealand spokeswoman said New Zealand had
worked hard in recent years to rebuild its reputation in
China, and now had a very positive education relationship
with China, which remains New Zealand's largest market.
''We are deliberately not seeking to see a rapid explosion in
low quality courses and providers that we saw in the early
''We are seeking to grow our numbers and the value of the
industry in a more sustainable way.
''The focus is on overall income rather than raw student
numbers, and that places the emphasis on higher-level
students studying for longer.''
She said the latest snapshot of IFP pupil numbers ( for 2013)
indicated several positive trends by sector when compared
''Universities, institutes of technology and polytechnics,
and secondary school numbers grew, while primary school and
private training establishment numbers were down.''