The number of foreign students is increasing at the University of Victoria, but the post-secondary institution is emphasizing there’s room for everyone.
“People see an increase and worry their son or daughter won’t get an opportunity to attend, but none of these (international) students will displace domestic students,” said UVic’s institutional planning director, Tony Eder.
There are about 850 foreign students enrolled this fall at UVic. They primarily come from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and the U.S., and pay three times the tuition fees – about $13,500 – charged to Canadian students.
International student numbers had dipped in the previous five years, as fears related to severe acute respiratory syndrome, H1N1 and financial effects of the global economic crisis took their toll. Eder says the hope for the next two years is that the number of foreign students will increase to pre-recession numbers of around 900.
The topic made provincial and national news Tuesday, as Premier Christy Clark announced plans to increase the number of international students studying in B.C. by 50 per cent within four years.
Overall enrolment at UVic is expected to top 20,000 this year, slightly higher than the 19,905 who registered last year. Undergraduate student enrolment is up two per cent and the number of graduate students increased four per cent.
Seventy percent of UVic’s student population come from outside Victoria.
Among universities west of Quebec, UVic has the highest proportion of out-of-province students – 21 per cent – with the bulk coming from Calgary, Edmonton and Greater Toronto, Eder said. “We hear over and over that no snow (in Victoria) is a factor.”
At Camosun College, however, where registration numbers are about even with last year at 9,349, more than half of its students are from Vancouver Island.
The college has fewer students enrolled in its 16 trades programs this fall, a direct result of a downturn in the economy, college spokesperson David Sovka said.
On the other hand, more students have signed up for two of Camosun’s degree programs: business, and exercise and physical therapy.
Eder said Victoria’s relatively small size is also attractive to students who come from small towns.
“It’s a different experience for students than if they went to a larger city. It’s a nice transition from a small town to a small city.”
Engineering, sciences, social sciences and business continue to be the most popular programs. This fall 12 per cent more students registered in engineering than the previous year.
UVic continues to be predominantly female, with women making up 59 per cent of the student population.