Thriving international education sector in B.C. boosts provincial economy

Greater numbers of international students are selecting British Columbia as their study destination.

Their presence is driving a thriving international education sector that has a significant impact on the economy and job creation throughout the province.

"Students from around the world are increasingly realizing the value of the high-quality post-secondary education that is offered in British Columbia," said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. "International students bring a range of social, cultural and economic benefits to classrooms, campuses and communities throughout our province."

In 2015, 130,053 international students studied in B.C. - a 44% increase from 90,037 in 2010. The province is on track to meet the BC Jobs Plan target of a 50% increase in the number of international students in B.C. by 2016. The B.C. international student data for 2016 will be released in mid-2017 and conclude reporting against the target.

International students spent $3.5 billion on tuition and expenses in 2015, which equalled a $2-billion contribution to the provincial GDP and supported 29,300 jobs in British Columbia. By comparison, international student spending in 2010 amounted to $2.1 billion, supported 17,900 jobs and contributed $1.2 billion to the provincial GDP. This represents an increase of almost 65% across each of these economic indicators since 2010.

"International students bring a wide range of experiences and cultural diversity to our schools and communities," said Education Minister Mike Bernier. "These students enhance our global perspectives and connections, and their presence helps lay the groundwork for a prosperous and economically diverse future for B.C."

As a service industry, international education is considered to be an "export" from B.C. since funds that support the industry come from outside Canada. In 2015, the export of B.C. international education services was equivalent to nearly 10% of the total value of goods exported by the province. It ranked third when compared with the export of goods, following wood products, and mineral fuels and oils.

"British Columbia continues to be a leader in attracting students from around the world into our language schools, K-12 districts and post-secondary institutions," said Randall Martin, executive director of the B.C. Council for International Education. "We have a well-earned reputation for quality education, safe communities, quality of life, and both cosmopolitan urban centres and stunning rural communities and geography. International students help to create a substantial number of direct and indirect jobs all across British Columbia and also help to support the diversification of our economy and the internationalization of our work force and communities, better preparing our own students to work and trade in the global economy."

International education remains a key sector under the BC Jobs Plan. It supports a diverse, strong and growing economy in the province. In 2012, government launched the B.C. International Education Strategy to promote the two-way global flow of students, educators and ideas between countries. The strategy concluded in September 2016. Work is underway to develop a refreshed B.C. International Education Strategy that will build on the significant progress to date and the position B.C. has as a global leader.

Original release from BC Government News