More than 1,000 students from Europe, Asia and South America are studying at elementary, middle and high school classrooms in the Tri-Cities this fall.
School District 43 is welcoming students back to classes as foreign travel restrictions ease.
But a boost in the number of students arriving to study here, while good news for local schools, is putting stress on the number of homestays available for foreign students.
International Education principal Geoff Johnston said the district is facing challenges in finding places to live for international students and is encouraging Tri-City residents to open their homes to these students.
District families that are interested in applying to become a homestay can find more information on www.internationaled.com under ‘Forms,' he said.
Students pay $16,500 in fees
Meanwhile, the district is slowly seeing the international education program rebound.
The students pay $16,500 in annual fees to go to school here, money that goes toward hiring teachers and paying for cultural grants, with surplus funds used to smooth financial ups and downs in school operational budgets.
Most of the students (80 per cent) are high school students, with about 11 per cent attending middle schools and nine per cent at the elementary level.
"While our program is slightly under pre-pandemic levels, we are rebuilding and expect a robust summer program —we’ve already had inquiries" said Johnston.
And while students from Asia continue to dominate the countries sending students here, Johnston said this year's crop of foreign students is the most diverse, with students from 30 countries attending classes in the district.
More students from Europe
Approximately 20 per cent of students arriving here are from Europe, where the district is making an effort to market to students seeking to study in Canada.
"To maintain our healthy position in the global market for international students, we are targeting growing markets like South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Italy, Spain and Germany, in addition to new partnerships in Mexico and Latin American countries," Johnston said.
"This is being accomplished with a mix of in-person and virtual participation in education and partnership fairs around the world, as well as connecting with local agents," Johnston said.
The top 10 places that students are arriving from are as follows:
- People’s Republic of China
- Republic of Korea
- Hong Kong
The rebuilding and focus on a wide variety of countries comes as fewer visitors are arriving in B.C. from China, due to that country's ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
The Tri-City News' sister paper Business In Vancouver (BIV) reports visitors from China is down 90 per cent in 2022 compared with 2019.