Abbotsford schools rank 24th for international enrolment in B.C.

But school board not too worried about attracting more high-revenue students from abroad

The Abbotsford school district’s international tuition sits at around average among B.C. school districts, according to a recent B.C. Teachers’ Federation report, which points to international tuition as an indicator of inequality among districts.

Overall international enrolment in public education has almost quadrupled in B.C., rising from around 4,083 full-time equivalent international students in 2001/02 to more than 15,580 in the 2016/17 school year, the BCTF report says, calling international education B.C.’s third largest export.

But between jurisdictions, international tuition ranges from 12 per cent of all revenue for West Vancouver, down to zero per cent in several, largely northern, districts.

RELATED: Looking for Abbotsford families to host Japanese students

Out of around 60 districts in total, the Abbotsford school district sits at around 24th highest, with three per cent of its revenue – $5.5 million – coming from international tuition, according to the report.

“One measure of the impact of student revenues is the percentage of the district budget that is supplemented by international student funds. International student tuition is generally $15,000 for an academic year, nearly twice the amount the province provides for each Canadian student,” the BCTF report notes.

“The district with the largest supplement is West Vancouver, which already has the highest socio-economic status in the province. Its bonus is 12 per cent, based on $8.8 million in revenue on top of the funding provided by the government to educate students in this district.”

RELATED: School district uses surplus, cuts to make up 2015/ shortfall

A notable difference is in the size of the districts. While 12 per cent of West Vancouver’s revenue equates to $8.8 million, Coquitlam generates 11 per cent of its total revenue from international tuition, which generates over $34 million.

Richmond, a school district closer to the size of Abbotsford’s, generates nine per cent of its total revenue from international tuition, at around $17 million.

But Abbotsford board of education chair Shirley Wilson said there’s no rush to seek any flux of international students. Wilson said amping up international tuition revenue stream may be important for other districts to replace declining enrolment.

“Some districts have had a declining enrolment – we’ve been fairly flat,” Wilson said. “That’s really important, because some districts have said, ‘We’re declining; we don’t want to eliminate programs.’ So they’ve found other revenue sources. That’s not been our situation.

“Our situation has been: We’re fairly flat and we can carry on at the level that we’re carrying on at.”

Still, that doesn’t mean there’s no desire to bring in further international enrolment in the district. As noted by the BCTF report, Abbotsford’s international tuition, at around $14,500 per year per student, brings far more revenue per student than the Ministry of Education provides in grants, averaged out at around $8,800 per student.

“It’s always the eye is on the prize, which is student achievement. Which is why we’ve always endeavoured to ensure that we have some buffer in our budget so that we can continue to provide these programs – not offer them for a year, and say, ‘Now what?’” Wilson said.

But she said that doesn’t come at the expense of local students, who Wilson said will always come first, stating that the board will not sacrifice programming or space for local students to enhance international tuition.

“It’s a fine balance. We also don’t want to take off more than we can chew, because we can’t start too many things too big and then not be able to complete them,” Wilson said.

“Our district – are we comfortable where we are? I’m going to give you a tentative yes, but that’s with a caveat that there’s always room for improvement. We’ve always run a very lean district. The boards that have come before me and likely the boards that will follow have always said that we are going to be as cost-efficient as we can.”

Report a typo or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Homicide team investigating after body found in Abbotsford

Resident finds deceased person on Keeping Road on Sumas Mountain

Fraser Valley Stage presents Mamma Mia!

Production comes to Abbotsford Arts Centre from Feb. 19-29

Over a dozen birds found mysteriously dead on Abbotsford road

Ministry of Agriculture notified of the strange occurrence on No. 4 Road

SLIDESHOW: The 8th annual Pet Lover Show at Abbotsford’s Tradex

RCMP service dogs, President’s Choice SuperDogs, the Catoro Cat Cafe and more

Abbotsford Islamic Centre hosts Open Mosque Day

Event on Saturday, Feb. 22 includes tours and kids’ activities

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Murder of sex worker exposes Canada’s hypocrisy on prostitution: advocate

A 2014 law made purchasing sex or benefiting from the selling of sex illegal

Wet’suwet’en return to northern B.C. forest road pipeline workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

Wet’suwet’en supporters against pipeline block rail tracks in Vancouver, impacting Amtrak

Amtrak services cancelled, turning back at the U.S.-Canada border

BC Ferries gets injunction against demonstrations in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

The preemptive injunction is a ‘last resort in the interest of public safety,’ spokesperson says

B.C. men arrested after theft of heavy equipment leads to highway blockade

One man surrendered to police while the other was taken into custody the next morning, RCMP say

PHOTOS: Trans Mountain hosts mock oil spill response practice in Kamloops

Practice comes after an excavator accidentally struck the pipeline near Jacko Lake in mid-February

Most Read