The Thames Valley District school board has exceeded its targets for recruiting international students for the last two years — and will do so again this September.
As demographics change and numbers of school-aged children in Canada dwindle, the area’s largest public school board is ramping up efforts to recruit tuition-paying international students to come here.
Top 3 countries
Where do Thames Valley’s international students come from?
Last year, 293 students, mainly from China, were studying at Thame Valley schools.
They made the school board $3.5 million in revenue in tuition.
The school board sends recruiters to sell the region to students, and works with education agents who, similar to travel agents, cater to the different needs of kids and parents.
“London is a different choice than Toronto or Vancouver. It’s authentically Canadian,” said Sarah Noad, the board’s international business development officer.
She was hired in 2014 to woo more international students to the board.
In two years, international student enrolment jumped by 78 per cent.
Tuition is ‘revenue generator’ for school board
Getting students to study here is big business — each high school student will pay tuition of $13,800 for a full year.
Elementary tuition is $12,500.
Which schools do international attend?
Top 3 high schools:
Top 3 elementary schools:
- Jack Chambers
Most students start in Grade 10. Some stay for two to three years, others stay longer and go on to college or university in Canada, Noad said.
The tuition students pay is comparable to what the school board gets per-pupil from the province. International students don’t get provincial funding, so tuition makes up the cost, Noad said.
“It is revenue-generating,” she said. “We’re able to cover our costs and it allows us to reinvest in local students’ international experience.”
The school board last year launched the International Certificate Program, which sees students take courses with an international focus, learn an additional language and either go abroad on exchange or interact with international students.
Although most students who come to London to study stay with family or friends, a growing number are staying with homestay families.
Dori Brauer hosted a student from China for the last two years and this September will take in a girl from Spain.
She said her own family has benefited from the experience.
“So much of our world is becoming a ‘them and us.’ and this really cut through some of that for my kids,” Brauer said.
Brauer has two kids, Maya, 8, and Jacob, 14.
“I’m hoping that as we meet other young people from other countries, I’m hoping that (openness) will magnify, and that it becomes more of who they are as people. I feel like that’s been the biggest benefit – we have had an appreciation for somebody lives on the other side of the planet.”