International student numbers rising at North Island College

North Island College's international student numbers are up, and School District 71 is working to expand participating countries.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT Joanna Lara from Guatemala is taking North Island College's medical transfer program in the Comox Valley.

North Island College’s international student numbers are up, and School District 71 is working to expand the countries with which it has partnerships.

According to a news release from NIC, there’s been a 30- to 35-per-cent increase in international student enrolment this year compared to last year.

NIC director of college and community relations Susan Auchterlonie previously said 121 students came to the college last year, and she expects 135 to 150 this year.

Meanwhile, SD71 international education principal Rob Moore expects the district’s international program enrolment numbers to be pretty much on par with last year.

“At this point, we’re at about 175 students and then before the year’s out, we’re likely to have another 40 to 50 head count come in for short-term students, so I think we’re going to be between 215 and 225 by the end of the day, which is a good thing,” he said, adding students are coming here from 19 countries this year.

He noted a decline in international students from Europe due to the world economy— including a 30-per-cent drop in students from Germany, which is where most of the district’s international students come from.

“We think it’s somewhat different than the college. Because these are high school children, I think the parents are being very careful with their money,” he said, adding high school students mainly come for culture and language immersion reasons. “When adults are going to college and university from another country that is a long-term commitment, they’re doing it, they’ve already raised the money for it.”

However, he noted SD71 is busy developing new partnerships in more areas of the world including Africa, the Middle East and India.

He expects to see those partnerships start to bring more high school students to the Valley next semester or next year.

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