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.


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