Northland schools are out of pocket to the tune of more than $1million, with the pandemic preventing international students from coming into the country.
The Education Ministry figures for 2020 show a drop of $1.15M in the international students' income for Northland compared to the previous year.
And while it's a big slice of funding not available for the schools - with more losses from this year - Te Tai Tokerau principals are more concerned about missing out on a multicultural experience for their students.
The total international student income in 2018 was $2,591,484, which increased to $2,701,359 (4.23 per cent) in 2019 and dropped to $1,550,030 (42.6 per cent) in 2020.
While the income from international students was low, most of the schools benefited from the Government grants, which saw an increase from $301,011,617 in 2018 to $321,676,876 in 2019 and $353,928,965 in the Covid-19-hit 2020.
The data was collected from 147 of the 151 schools in Northland.
The numbers indicated schools' income from sources including general donations, fundraising, donation for activities, house rents and trips in 2020 also fell by 22 per cent compared to the previous year.
Whangārei Girls' High School saw a 66.6 per cent decrease in revenue from international students, from $461,509 in 2019 to $156,766 in 2020.
Principal Anne Cooper said losing the additional income from international students meant they had to make hard decisions as the school mainly used that income to provide extra staffing - to allow smaller classes to run or to be able to split larger classes.
However, Cooper said the school missed the international students - "they put a wonderful dynamic into the school and it was good for our students to learn about their cultures as much as for them to learn about ours.
"Some strong friendships were formed and they joined in the wider life of the school such as sports teams, kapa haka, music groups.
"We were lucky to have three students remain with us this year and it has been a real pleasure having them in our school."
Some of the activities and trips usually carried out with the international students were dropped, said Cooper.
"We also did no overseas marketing and the international department has had to cut right back on their usual programmes and activities.
"We hope very much international students will be able to return in the not-too-distant future. We would love to see a busy and vibrant international department again and to hear the different accents from different parts of the world."
Kerikeri High School principal Elizabeth Forgie also said they missed the happy diversity that the big group of international students brought to the school.
"Our students loved attending classes with students, for example, from countries as diverse as Italy, Germany, Norway and France, as well as from South America, Thailand and China.
"We also miss these young people in our wider community.
"Our students and staff really value the great relationships we developed, often for life, and our students really valued being selected and trained as Kiwi Buddies for our incoming international students."
Kerikeri high school faced a 28 per cent drop in income from international students last year ($1,129,196 in 2019 to 812,604 in 2020).
Forgie said they were budgeting "very carefully" and had moved some spending forward to ensure that as of now, their students received the "high quality" of education they were able to provide for them.
"Discretionary spending and development, for example, with our information technology infrastructure and further development of our innovative learning environments, has been deferred.
"While our very successful international student programme did provide additional income for our school, the most important thing about having so many international students attending Kerikeri High School were the relationships that were developed with young people and their families from all over the world and the window on the world for our students.
"We are looking forward to the time when vaccination and testing technology enables us to welcome our international students back to Kerikeri High School."
Whangārei's Pompallier School principal Richard Stanton said 2021 saw a bigger impact compared to last year as the school managed to retain some international students until the end of 2020.
The school suffered a 38.8 per cent decrease in revenue from international students in 2020. (320,548 in 2019 to 196,167 in 2020).
"In 2021 we have 10 per cent of what we had in 2019.
"We had to disestablish one staffing position and cancelled some intended development projects. It has certainly been more financially challenging without this additional income flow.
"We usually have around 25 students who stay with us the whole year. Generally, they were from Asia or Europe.
"They are wonderful students who bring a different educational and cultural experience into the world of NZ students.
"It is amazing to see how many of them join into kapa haka and other Māori cultural experiences. Their presence often encourages our more reluctant students to be involved.
"Nearly all of these students were fluent in two or more languages and are often very high academic performers. Their presence challenged our own students to lift their academic performance."
Aside from the students who stayed the whole year, the school had regular groups of students from Chinese and Thai schools and the staff went to China most years, Stanton said.
"These were groups of 12-15 students from a particular school. They were supported by our students in year 10 and attended their classes.
"They were hosted by our families and were introduced to some of the wonders of Northland and life in NZ. This exposure was a very enriching experience for our students as well as our visitors.
"Communication still takes place between many of them.
"The International students enhance our overall curriculum because they add a dimension that our students typically do not experience. I am looking forward to having them back in our school in the near future"