Canadian school boards and universities are relaxing admission criteria for international students, in a bid to bring in much-needed new revenue.
The Toronto District School Board says it is negotiating a partnership with the University of Toronto which would include waiving the required English proficiency exam for foreign students who have completed two years of high school at the Toronto board.
Limestone District School Board in Kingston, Ont., has partnered with Queens University and the first year of the partnered program starts this fall. Students studying at one of the board’s schools receive conditional acceptance into Queens’ faculty of arts and science at the beginning of Grade 12. As part of the partnership, Queens reduced its required score for language proficiency.
The number of foreign students in Canadian secondary schools has increased by 30 per cent over the last 10 years as boards seek revenue to make up for budget shortfalls caused by declines in enrolment. Globally, Canada’s main rivals in the battle for foreign students’ are the United States, the U.K. and Australia.
According to Bonnie McKie, the executive director of the Canadian Association of Public Schools International, the new partnerships formalize what many foreign students who attend high school in Canada are already planning.
Interest is also emerging from new areas, including Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey and Chile. In 2012 alone, more than 23,000 new foreign students, most from China, Korea, Mexico, Germany and Brazil, attended high school in Canada. The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board consists of over 1,000 foreign students as compared to 35 students in 1999. The Vancouver School Board’s international recruitment began more than a decade ago, and has expanded over the past five years to over 1,300.
One year of tuition for a foreign student can be as high as $13,000, with total revenues from this source for the Vancouver School Board expected to reach $20-million in the upcoming academic year.
“We’ve been putting a lot of attention into marketing of the international student program because it’s a serious revenue source. It’s one of the only few revenue sources the school board has,” said Mike Lombardi, the vice-chair of the Vancouver school board.
In times of reduced enrolment in Canada, the revenue from foreign students is saving teachers’ jobs. High school enrolment fell by nearly 3,000 students over the past 10 years in North Vancouver’s district school board, and Superintendent John Lewis said it is expected to decline further in the next few years. Demographic shifts are also causing downward enrolment in Vancouver, Ottawa-Carlton, Limestone and the Toronto District School Board.
The TDSB unanimously passed an internationalization and global strategy in April, including a goal to increase the number of foreign students in its schools, which admitted 1,534 students in 2012-13.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
Canada is now signalling to the dominant players that the study in Canada industry is now firmly within its focus. Canada recently admitted more than 200,000 foreign students and there are plans for a higher threshold in 2014 and beyond. Immigration policy renders it easier to obtain Canada study permits and there are flexible transitions towards Canada work permits (on campus and off campus) as well as many provincial nomination programs (PNP’s) to obtain Canada permanent residence.
Source: The Globe And Mail