Educational experts in British Columbia argue that more focus should be placed on the potential of international students in enriching the social and economic development of the province in the coming years.
In a recent piece for the Vancouver Sun, executive director of the British Columbia Council for International Education (BCCIE) Randall Martin advocates for a “better understanding” of the important role played by international students in today’s global economy.
Martin argues that international education is a growing market, with an estimated four million students currently studying abroad. By 2020 that figure is expected to hit seven million. Such numbers naturally signify a large economic sector (estimated at $2.2 trillion) and international students bring in about $1.2 billion per year into B.C.’s GDP.
Beyond their direct contribution to the economy, international students also represent potential future skilled labour, if Canada can find a way to retain them in today’s global market.
“These are young, healthy and B.C.-trained professionals who can populate the vacuum left by B.C.’s aging demographic and declining birthrates,” argues Martin. “They have taken no one’s spot in the classroom and they will take no one’s job. To suggest as much is anecdotal mischief.”
While some in Canada lament the rapid growth of student exchange, other nations such as Australia continue strong recruitment efforts – efforts which are reflected in recent figures showing a 41 percent increase in international students between 2003 and 2007. During that same period Canada reported a six percent increase.
It is crucial now, more than ever, says Martin, for British Columbia and the rest of Canada to communicate the benefits of international students, not only in its recruitment efforts abroad, but also here at home to ensure that Canadians understand the potential of this resource.
Source: Vancouver Sun