BC's international education strategy: implications for public post-secondary education
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How many international students in our public universities and colleges in BC are optimal? It is obviously more than 0%, but less than 100%. In Australia, international students make up about 25% of total post-secondary enrolment, and in some subjects, such as business and management, about 50%; for Australia, post-secondary education is a major national export. So would say 25% be an appropriate target for BC, given that it would mean 50% in some programs (e.g. economics and business) and 0% in others (e.g. education, nursing, medicine), maybe 35% in some institutions (e.g. University of British Columbia, UBC) and 1% in others (e.g. Northern Colleges), and larger spatial agglomerations in some regions (e.g. 80% in the Lower Mainland) than others (e.g. 2% in Northern BC)? With BC already having the largest per-capita enrolment of international students in public post-secondary education in Canada, and with this enrolment already having doubled over the last 10 years, this paper adopts Oxford economist Paul Collier’s analytical framework as outlined in his 2014 book Exodus: How Migration Is Changing Our World to examine these questions.1 The paper implements Collier’s methodology by evaluating the strategy within what is termed BC’s “integrated offer” linking public post-secondary educaton with immigration policy - to allow international students to study, to work while studying and after graduation, and to potentially immigrate to BC. Due to a projected shortage of high-skilled workers in Canada and BC into the future, BC wants to attract the world’s best and brightest students and then retain these after graduation. Post-secondary institutions are hence now critical componets of Canadian and BC immigration policy. However the paper will provide a holistic analysis rather than a focus only on BC’s economic interests, using Collier’s framework to examine the issue from the perspectives of domestic students in BC and their societies, and the international students and potential migrants themselves, and their societies.