Taking in an international student is a great way parents can connect their kids to the world and new experiences, and help students from other countries come to B.C. and Canada to take advantage of one of the best education systems in the world.
That message came through loud and clear at the release of new guidelines – the first comprehensive ones in Canada – for families who open their homes to international students during their stay.
The new guidelines were launched at the Surrey school district office today, where longstanding homestay families in attendance shared personal stories from their experiences. They talked about how having international students in their homes was an enriching cultural experience for their entire family.
On behalf of education Minister Mike Bernier, current host families from Surrey were presented with recognition certificates by Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, and Surrey-Fleetwood MLA.
In 2014-15, there were nearly 17,000 international students in B.C.’s K-12 system – more than 13,100 in 50 school districts and more than 3,800 in 101 independent schools – contributing an estimated $400 million annually to the provincial economy.
The new homestay guidelines will also benefit school districts by clearly outlining responsibilities for homestay organizers and international student programs. To further support international students and their families, the guidelines will be translated into six languages in the near future (Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, German and Portuguese).
Schools districts and independent schools had previously developed their own homestay polices, but the provincial guidelines ensure consistency across the sector. The guidelines were developed by the Provincial K-12 Homestay Guidelines Working Group, comprised of school district, independent school, and Ministry of Education representatives.
Mike Bernier, Minister of Education –
“The launch of the K-12 International Student Homestay Guidelines continues B.C.’s commitment to international education. I am confident school districts will use the guidelines to positively improve their homestay programs.”
Peter Fassbender, MLA Surrey-Fleetwood –
“I’m thrilled that British Columbia is the first province to introduce comprehensive guidelines for the homestay industry. Our world-class education system continues to attract students from around the globe and these guidelines make the decision to study here even easier.”
Shawn Wilson, chair, Surrey Board of Education –
“It’s a very big step for families to take in pursuing education abroad for their child and we want our clients’ experience to be the best it can, not just academically, but the life experience. Having thoughtful guidelines for homestays supports that goal and I hope may also encourage families to consider being a host.”
Dency Pelegrin, homestay parent in the Surrey school district –
“I have had a wonderful experience hosting Surrey international students from many countries, including China, Austria and Mongolia over the past 10 years. It has been an incredible learning opportunity for my family as well as the students and I think the guidelines will be great for all homestays and students. I strongly encourage others to consider becoming a host family.”
- A homestay is a formal arrangement by an international student program, or its delegates, to house an international student with an approved family during the course of study.
- In B.C., school districts and independent schools offer homestay using three different administrative models:
- School districts and independent schools run their own homestay programs;
- School districts contract the administration of their homestay programs out to other homestay program providers; or
- School districts and independent schools keep lists of homestay program providers for international parents and students.
K-12 International Student Homestay Guidelines: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/administration/kindergarten-to-grade-12/internationaleducation/home_stay_guidelines.pdf