HOSTIES: Scott Barnard (International Student Coordinator), Tyler Grice, 8, Annie Gelhaar Grice, Lisa Michaelis, 16, Luke Grice and Dayne Grice, 6.
HOSTIES: Scott Barnard (International Student Coordinator), Tyler Grice, 8, Annie Gelhaar Grice, Lisa Michaelis, 16, Luke Grice and Dayne Grice, 6. Contributed

Mining drop-off forces local school to axe international exchange

A LACK of Gladstone host families has forced Tannum Sands State High School to put a stop to hosting international students until July 2018, the Department of Education and Training has confirmed.

The school community reached a decision in consultation with the Parents and Citizens' Association and the DET.

"Tannum Sands State High School has been unable to develop a large enough pool of prospective suitable families to support future enrolments of international students," a DET spokesperson said.

Gladstone State High School, the only other state school to host international students in the area, is also experiencing "more difficulty" sourcing host families, but has not yet ceased its program.

The DET spokesperson attributed the decline in host families to the mining drop-off.

"This difficulty is most noticeably attributed to a number of willing host families previously associated with mining activities leaving the area," the DET spokesperson said.

There are no plans to cease enrolments completely at TSSHS or GSHS at this stage.

One local family would host international students again if given the opportunity, but admitted inadequate funding made it difficult.

Former TSSHS host parents Luke Grice and Annie Grice accommodated Lisa Michaelis from Germany and a Norwegian girl at the same time four years ago.

"You do get some funding, but not much," Mrs Grice said.

"Out of our own pocket, we took them on holidays to the Gold Coast ourselves, and it makes us appreciate where we live.

"We were really amazed by how mature they were and how easily they fit into our lives."

Mr Grice said the couple's two boys learnt about "different culture and different experiences" from the two European teenagers.

"We gained two daughters, and they will always be a part of our lives. If we could afford international students, we would host them every year," Mrs Grice said.

A former international student, whose application to study at TSSHS for a 12-month program was initially rejected, successfully reapplied and extended their study period to 18 months.

The student had since returned to Queensland and pursued a university education, the DET spokesperson said.

The homestay program is managed through regional schools offering the Department's International Student Programs, with marketing support from the DET.

Homestays are the Department's preferred accommodation for overseas students, and are recognised by the DET as an important support service for international students.

The DET homestay program is managed by schools that offer the DET's international student programs, with host recruitment support provided by the State Government.



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