A High Court decision that found Tauranga Boys' College acted unlawfully in expelling and excluding international students caught smoking cannabis could have a ripple effect on schools throughout the country, according to an education leader.

Three boys were excluded from the college, but because the incident took place outside of schools grounds and school time it meant the school had no power to suspend under education law, the High Court found.

The school argued the German exchange pupils were excluded for breaching a contract with the college.

Schools International Education Business Association of New Zealand executive director John van der Zwan said the decision clarified the role of contracts between schools and international students.


Mr van der Zwan said schools across the country would probably review their contracts.

Disciplinary measures for incidents involving international students varied depending on the case, but generally schools relied on student contracts to guide them on what steps to take.

"Schools need to review their student contracts to ensure that they are complete in order to allow them to enforce those contracts - one of the issues at the moment is that many schools are using a Ministry of Education template which hasn't been updated with changes that have occurred."

Mr van der Zwan thought it was important Tauranga Boys' took the stance they did, as it clarified a grey area.

"It is much needed, I really want to commend Tauranga Boys' College for taking a stand.

"It has provided clarity for everybody."

The High Court ruling had been a wake-up call for schools across the country.

Education Tauranga regional manager Anne Young agreed the ruling would have an impact on the entire education industry.

"Institutions should now obtain legal advice when forming any contract with an international student and/or their parents.

"Institutions will have to carefully consider the terms of the contracts they hold and clearly articulate the consequences of not meeting the terms of the contract, to international students and their parents," she said.

Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan told the Bay of Plenty Times the judgement provided clarity to the jurisdiction issue under the Education Act and the school would use it to guide future actions.

He said schools would need a clear and robust contract with their international students and parents, which would outline contractual obligations.

"There is certainly a concern with overseas agents about where the responsibility of health and safety of international students now rests.

"That needs clarifying so if a similar incident happens to other principals they have clear guidance," Mr Mangan said.

Increase in international students

A report by Education Tauranga showed that from January to April 2016 there was an overall increase of 26 per cent, or 299 students, in international student enrolments compared with the same period in 2015.

The report estimated Education Tauranga schools' international students injected $39.8 million into the economy, an increase in the past year of $8.2 million.