International students concentrated in Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria, report says

A report by the B.C. Teachers Federation says millions of dollars in revenue brought in from international students is unfairly concentrated in 10 school districts in Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria.

According to the report, the gross revenue for B.C.'s school districts from international tuition totalled more than $250 million during the past school year. The province said that the net revenue from international tuition in K-12 schools was $106 million after expenses.

Larry Kuen, the federation's research director and the report's co-author, said efforts should be made to bring international students to areas outside the Lower Mainland and other parts of Vancouver Island.

According to the Ministry of Education, international students bring many social and economic benefits to an area; roughly $3.5-billion to the economy and foster over 29,000 jobs in B.C.

'Concerned about the inequalities'

Yet Kuehn said the majority of the money is concentrated in just 10 districts. Four of those districts, West Vancouver, Coquitlam, Rocky Mountain and Burnaby receive at least 10 per cent of their revenue from foreign students.

That's not the case in other regions of the province, he said.

"Many other districts have no international students [and] get no extra funding because of that," said Kuehn. "And so we're concerned about the inequalities that are produced by that."

West Vancouver Schools
West Vancouver Schools

In the 2018 school year, international students made up three per cent of B.C.'s student population, a one per cent increase from 2012 according to the province.

The ministry says it will continue to support international education but school districts are responsible for setting their own international education policies.

Meanwhile, Jason Ellis, who teaches at the University of British Columbia's faculty of education, says public schools should focus on public education.

"Their staff are spending a lot of time or some time at least seeking out international students recruiting them and bringing them in."