Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Increasing Foreign Student Intake

Premier Christy Clark announced today a plan to increase the intake of international students to the province (emphasis mine).

As part of 'Canada Starts Here: The B.C. Jobs Plan', to be released Thursday, Premier Christy Clark announced key steps to increase the number of post-secondary students from other countries studying in B.C.

She also announced how the Province will work with partners to ensure education and training are offered to British Columbians so they can work in the regions where they live and study.

"International students who study in B.C. create thousands of jobs and bring millions of dollars into local economies," said Clark. "Our universities are job creators. We are setting clear targets to dramatically increase the number of international students coming to B.C. These students will also help build strong relationships between B.C., Canada and the rest of the world."

Under the Jobs Plan, the Province is setting a goal of increasing the number of international students by 50 per cent over four years. International students in B.C. currently generate 22,000 jobs and bring an estimated $1.25 billion into the provincial economy. Each 10 per cent increase translates into an estimated 1,800 new jobs and a $100-million boost to the provincial GDP.

To achieve this goal the Province will:

  • Create an international education council to help build strong relationships in both existing and emerging economies, like China, India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
  • Leverage B.C.'s trade offices to help connect international students to B.C.'s educational opportunities.
  • Work with communities to prepare them to welcome students from abroad.
  • Strengthen the Province's Education Quality Assurance.
Send more B.C. students overseas to prepare them to work in a global economy.
"Our educational institutions are renowned for their quality, which is what drives nearly 94,000 students a year to B.C. to further their education," said Advanced Education Minister Naomi Yamamoto. "We are currently engaging with institutions and communities on a more targeted, co-ordinated and strategic approach that takes advantage of the growth opportunities and maximizes the economic, social and cultural benefits for B.C. communities to remain successful in what is a hugely competitive environment."

"As a university with nearly two decades' experience, and a student population that reaches every corner of the globe, we know how important having solid international relationships are to building a culturally diverse and stimulating educational experience for all our students," said Alan Shaver, president of Thompson Rivers University. "It's encouraging the Province is taking a leadership role on international education - a strong partnership going forward that works towards top-quality education and good international relationships will position B.C.'s universities and colleges well in an increasingly competitive world."

This blog is generally bearish on housing but we also must acknowledge the realities of the economy and the need for BC to produce items of value. One of these items is education at universities and international students are currently willing to pay big bucks to study in North American institutions.

Note Pmr. Clark introduced this plan in Kamloops, an area with higher unemployment, one with a university hoping to increase its prominence. It is unclear whether spots at the original "big 3" universities will be increased as well or if the government's efforts are geared towards bootsrapping an interior that is facing a prolonged recession, if not already experiencing one now.

The point I wanted to raise here, though, is students' effect on housing and schooling. The province is facing an over-investment in residential construction and bedrooms need to be filled. As families' incomes come under pressure and carrying costs of their dwellings start increasing, the need for supplementary income will increase. One way of doing this is through boarding foreign students, and many families in larger cities do this to help with mortgage payments. The reason they can do this is first that they have available bedrooms and second there is an existing infrastructure of private, public, secondary, and post-secondary schools that certain foreigners find desirable.

If I'm right and the province is oversubscribing in investment, one partial "way out" is to increase foreign student enrollment. The province has what is seen as a healthy and desirable education system, with an abundance of qualified well-trained teachers and existing often-under-utilised facilities, and that resource should be acknowledged as currently having value on the world stage. This means ensuring the education brand the province has produced for itself is maintained, and this goes for all means of schools.

When we look forward to a potential investment recession in BC, there will be attempts to bail out previous over-investments by means of increasing their utility. Filling up vacant accommodations through increased foreign consumption and population growth without displacing existing jobs for residents is going to be something the government will likely look to facilitate with greater urgency should TSHTF.

1 comment:

Davidson said...

Vancouver has become a giant ESL campus. Actually I think this is a good thing and it helps the many over-extended pay their mortgages.

I know one family who have 4 students in a Northshore 1900 sq foot house on top of their own family.

No room to breath but they make the payments.