By Naomi Yamamoto
Minister of Advanced Education
June 16, 2011
VICTORIA - Our future as a province is increasingly a global future. We are more and more dependent on international trade, the ability of our local businesses to expand into other markets and our broad family ties that extend across the globe.
In this respect, international education has much to offer. For our B.C. students who leave the country, they become goodwill ambassadors for British Columbia and Canada. And for our much welcomed visiting students, B.C'.s many communities and local families are enriched by the experience.
In British Columbia, we had about 94,000 international students studying here last year, which is a conservative number when you look at all of the short-term international students who come to B.C. for language instruction or other studies. The experiences, successes and the relationships built from all of these young people will continue for a lifetime.
From an economic perspective, international students spent about $1.8 billion last year alone in B.C., benefiting our local families and their communities. This translates into approximately $1.25 billion in GDP and approximately 22, 000 jobs.
For smaller, regional communities the economic impacts are substantial. For example, recent estimates indicate that international students studying at Thompson Rivers University bring approximately $88 million to the Kamloops economy every year.
The global demand for international education is predicted to grow to about 7.2 million students by 2025. Do we think it is possible to increase our international market? Yes, we do. Because we are part of a country that enjoys a very high standard of living, communities in our province are some of the most beautiful places on earth, and our educational institutions are renowned for their quality.
Our Education Quality Assurance designation is British Columbia's brand for quality post-secondary education. The EQA trademark is the first education brand of its kind in Canada that promotes quality abroad.
In fact, Canada has about four per cent of the 3.3 million internationally mobile students worldwide. Among Canadian provinces and territories, B.C. is among the best in terms of attracting students.
Our goal has always been to ensure that international students have quality learning and living experiences in B.C. This is an area where we have excelled, and we want to continue to offer excellence-for reasons that extend far beyond a study term.
British Columbia will need to fill more than one million job openings by 2019. Currently, there are only 650,000 young people who will emerge from our school system to fill those jobs. We will increasingly need to rely on talent from outside the province to address this gap. In fact, we expect that immigrants will fill one-third of our job openings. International students are potentially the skilled, educated, young immigrants who can help address our future labour market challenges.
For B.C., international education is not only about attracting more international students to B.C. and it is not only about attracting a future workforce. It is about investing in our future on the global stage.
This is an area that I am particularly excited about because it is a growing opportunity. Right from the early years, young British Columbians are well prepared by our K-12 system to excel in their studies around the world.
We also know that other countries are taking big steps in this arena and sending a strong signal that that they want more of their students to study overseas. We are in a globalized age. It is important to be part of this exciting wave because internationalization builds our strength as a province and as a country.
For our young people, the world is clearly a much smaller place, given the opportunity to exchange ideas with students from other countries. For our communities, international students make an incredible contribution to the diversity that we all value. For our global economy, the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and decision makers will be well connected as international citizens.
Video messages from Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of Advanced Education, who has just arrived in China for a 10-day visit to promote international education:
Students that come from China to study in British Columbia contribute to the diversity, knowledge and culture of our province: http://youtu.be/CaX5k8IkROU
B.C.'s Educational Quality Assurance designation, or EQA, is our brand for quality post-secondary education: http://youtu.be/ljwxUozRYwk
In our increasingly globalized world, students need to be well connected international citizens: http://youtu.be/ZoU_QfRbgCc
Ministry of Advanced Education