by Selina Chignall in Ottawa
A Statistics Canada report shows foreign student enrolment at Canada’s universities and colleges rose 2.5 per cent in 2013-2014, with international students accounting for roughly 10 per cent of all students enrolled in post-secondary institutions.
The bulk of foreign students are enrolled in universities and colleges in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, Statistics Canada reported. Those from Asian countries made up the bulk of foreign students, with China the top country of citizenship.
International students filling gaps
The Dean of Business at the University of New Brunswick, Fazley Siddiq says there are many reasons why universities are looking to recruit international students.
One reason is the shortage of qualified domestic students, due to declining birth rates. He says that post-secondary institutions have enrolment targets they try to meet, and if there aren’t enough domestic students, international students help fill in those gaps.
“This is happening right across all post-secondary colleges, including community colleges,” he said.
Students from abroad also bring an additional plus to educational institutions — extra revenue.
According to Statistics Canada, those from abroad paid an average of $20,477 in 2014 to 2015 for undergraduate — an increase of 6.8 per cent from the year before. This is three times more than what the average Canadian student paid in tuition in 2014-2015, which was $5,959.
David Robinson, the executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, said most provinces have deregulated student fees for international students. Therefore, universities can charge whatever they want. “They can be quite astronomical,” he said.
Not just the universities benefitting financially
International students bring a diversity to student bodies, but Robinson is concerned that they are mostly valued “for the money they bring onto campus.”
But Siddiq says international students are a necessity. Without them, many universities, especially in Atlantic Canada, would be in economic hardship, as they face declining government support and rising costs. “It’s much needed cash for universities.”
“We are looking for our revenues from all sources, and in the declining public funding environment, you have to do your best to increase your revenue, and international students do help us do that.”
It’s not just the universities that benefit financially from international students. The Canadian Bureau for International Students’ reported that in 2014, the economic boost from international students poured $8 billion into the Canadian economy.
Despite the sky-high costs of attending post-secondary school in Canada, Robinson said many students abroad are willing to pay those fees because receiving a degree from a North America school is seen as prestigious.
Also, in many countries like China and India, there is a growing demand for these degrees, but there is not enough space in schools to meet the demand. Therefore, many students look abroad to attend school.
Re-published in partnership with iPolitics.ca.