Govt cap on foreign students kneejerk reaction
National Education Spokesperson
21st November 2002
Govt cap on foreign students another kneejerk reaction
"The Government's kneejerk reaction to teacher union demands for a cap on foreign fee paying students will interfere in school rights to run themselves and contradicts everything Ministers have been saying in promotion of increased student numbers for the last three years," says National's Education spokesperson Nick Smith.
"The teachers unions and Minister want to trample all over the rights of schools and their communities to decide for themselves the right balance of foreign fee paying students. This decision should be left to democratically elected school boards and not be subject to political and union dictates from Wellington.
"An artificial cap is exactly the wrong way to manage this issue. For some rural schools foreign fee paying students provide the critical mass to make specialist classes for other NZ students viable and in some cases help provide the numbers to keep schools open. For hundreds of schools the funds from foreign fee paying students is essential to providing a quality programme for NZ students. The Minister would do more for secondary education by properly funding schools that would take the financial pressure off school boards than introducing caps or restrictions on foreign fee paying students.
"This kneejerk reaction, like that this week on immigration, shows total confusion by Government in its policies. For three years education ministers Mr Mallard and Mr Maharey have been urging the sector to take more foreign fee paying students, including a visit to China in May this year. It is total hypocrisy for them to now suggest there are too many and that the tap needs to be turned off.
"Capping student numbers will not only adversely affect schools, but will also hurt regional economies and families. Many families help fund the mortgage with foreign fee paying student boarders. This sector is New Zealand's fourth largest export earner and has a key role to play in lifting New Zealand back into the top half of the OECD," said Dr Smith.