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Schools urged to look beyond financial gain

12 July 2004

Schools urged to look beyond financial gain of overseas students

International students provide schools with a much needed boost to funding – however these students also come with their own set of costs, says New Zealand School Trustees Association President Chris France.

His comments come in support of those made by Education Minister Trevor Mallard at the annual NZSTA conference held in Palmerston North over the weekend. Mr Mallard urged trustees to ensure their schools had sound policies around the recruitment of international students.

NZSTA president Chris France says schools have shown a lot of innovation with the recruitment of international students, and in many cases education to all students has been enhanced.

However, he says some schools would benefit from a more clearly thought out policy for recruiting overseas students, which includes weighing up the costs. While they do bring increased fees to the school, the international students also carry costs such as teacher payments, pastoral care, and support staff.

“Students from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds make for interesting and vibrant schools, and there are some real educational benefits for all students. Of course, it also provides schools with a much needed financial boost. That said, schools need to be mindful that sound international programmes cost money.

“Recruitment programmes can’t be seen in the same vein as more traditional forms of fundraising such as raffles where the school takes all the profits”.

He says schools should also think carefully about the ratio between overseas students and New Zealand students. The ratio needs to provide a workable balance to ensure the needs of all students are met.

The market for international students has grown increasingly lucrative for New Zealand schools in the past eight years. In 1997, international student revenue made up 9.3% of locally raised funding for schools. Last year, this had increased to almost 29%.

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“The income from international students is attractive to schools but there need to be a clear direction as to why it is a preferred financial source. Schools with international students have to cater adequately for a diverse range of children and meeting those requirements can be costly,” says Chris France. Chris France says schools are being forced to be more innovative in fundraising ventures to ensure they have adequate funding to run their schools.

“Throughout New Zealand boards of trustees are supplementing their operations grants because the current funding levels cannot be stretched to meet every need. Operations grants may have kept pace over time with factors such as inflation, but there continues to be a shortfall in what we would consider to be adequate funding.”

Chris France, who finishes his term as NZSTA president in September, says the past four years have been a fulfilling and exciting time.

“Working with thousands of New Zealanders who are truly passionate about our children’s education has been extremely rewarding. With NZSTA moving to being a more unified body by strengthening its national voice, school trustees will go from strength to strength.”

Chris France will be succeeded in the presidency by Southland man Chris Haines.


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