Posted by Colin Heggie on May 11, 2021
Donna McGrath (hosted by Colin) is an International Education Consultant, having worked in all aspects of international student recruitment, services, housing & support at Okanagan College, UBC Okanagan & Thompson Rivers University.  She explained that our schools originally invited foreign students to expose Canadians to other cultures & viewpoints.  Over time, foreign students have grown to be major “profit center” for our schools, colleges & universities, becoming an important source of revenue to fill or augment funding gaps.  Between 2010 & 2020, enrollment grew 135%.  In 2019, Canada hosted 642,000 international students, of whom 500,000 were in post-secondary institutions.  For 2020, the numbers dropped about 17%, & going forward, we don’t know how Covid-19 & online learning will impact recruitment.  This is a big business, with tuition, housing, food & other spending bringing close to $20b to the Canadian economy at peak enrollment.  Primary source countries are India & China, representing well over 50% of our international students between them.  Success in attracting & retaining foreign students is highly dependent upon federal student & work visa policies.  Because 60% of international students apply for permanent residency, & many fund their education through jobs during & after their schooling, disconnects between their needs & visa policies will impact their decisions significantly.  Canada is seen as a safe place to get a high-quality education; in return, Canada develops a pool of well-qualified immigrants.  Problem areas include Canada’s reluctance to recognize foreign credentials, & a tendency for Canadian employers to (want to) pay less for foreign workers.  Also, demand for a “western” education will drop as India & China build more & better colleges & universities.  Where their needs align with ours, everybody wins!  For more info, see CBIE | Global Leader in International Education & British Columbia Council for International Education (bccie.bc.ca)