An English language academy in Rotorua has seen 200 students cancel courses in the wake of Covid-19 and it has zero revenue coming in.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the Government was acutely aware of the challenges the international education sector was facing and pledged $51.6 million to help stabilise the industry.
He hoped the investment would help cushion the blow of the unexpected loss of revenue.
But Rotorua English Language Academy manager Jan Clarke said what was shaping up to be one of the best years ever had turned into a nightmare.
''A couple of long-term projects we had been working on in China and Latin America had just come to fruition. We had over 50 students in the school as the magnitude of the pandemic started to hit.
''Over half of these students left early and the only new students we have been able to welcome have been those already in the country.
"We have lost over $600,000 to date this year. Of this, the vast majority (over 95 per cent) would have gone into the Rotorua community to our activity and transport providers, homestay families, our staff and other services."
Since February, when Covid first started impacting the English language industry, ''we have seen more than 200 students cancel their courses''.
Its sector was allocated $10m in funding but ''we have no idea how much money our school will get ... of course it's better than nothing but when it's divided up, it's not going to go far''.
Rotorua Boys' High School principal Chris Grinter said it had managed to maintain its international students as they had started school prior to the lockdown.
But a short-term exchange visit from Shiba High School in Japan, which had been going for 22 years was cancelled.
The key concern for the school for 2021was the continuing uncertainty about the borders reopening.
''At the moment everything is at a standstill. International students continue to represent not just a financial benefit to schools but an important way in which we can bring the wider world into our schools and celebrate cultural differences which is an important part of education.''
Toi Ohomai student engagement and experience executive director Patrick Brus said while it would not receive funding the support for NZQA, online offshore delivery and hardship funds will have a positive impact for current and potential international students.
Toi Ohomai currently has a focus on onshore international student recruitment, as well as online offshore delivery to best prepare students to come to New Zealand in 2021.
It was now focusing on onshore international student recruitment, as well as online offshore delivery to best prepare students to come to New Zealand in 2021, he said.
On the flip side, the Toi Ohomai Mokoia campus has about 1150 international students up about 10 per cent on 2019. Across all its campuses it has experienced growth of 24 per cent in international students this year compared to 2019.
Education Tauranga/Priority One regional relationship manager Melissa Gillingham said the industry was focusing on retaining currently enrolled international students and ''providing them with the best possible experiences while they are still living and studying here''.
Recruitment of future students continues and had quickly moved into the digital space, with virtual fairs and agent webinars becoming the best way for education providers to keep their brand in the market.
She said the funding support would not solve all challenges faced by schools from Covid-19 ''but is a strong signal that international education is of high value to the New Zealand school system and economy''.
Hipkins also said there could be an opportunity to ''benefit from the strong international reputation we have gained through our handling of the Covid-19 crisis''.
The Government would allow international students to return when it was safe to do so, he said. - Additional reporting Carmen Hall
Who will get what?
* $20m in support for state and state-integrated schools for rest of year for teachers and pastoral care.
* $10m for Private Training Establishments including English language schools to buffer the sharp decline in revenue.
* $10m to develop new future-focused products and services to drive growth in our system onshore and offshore.
* $6.6m to continue the pastoral care and other activities for international students, subject to Export Education levy payment scrap.
* $1.5m for English Language Schools to deliver English language training to migrants.
* $500,000 to develop a quality assurance process.