Celebrating international education

The influence of international students is prized across the province, including the West Kootenays.

  • Nov. 19, 2012 1:00 p.m.

Govt. press release

With files from Jim Sinclair


VICTORIA – British Columbia has recently joined jurisdictions across Canada and more than 100 countries around the world in celebrating International Education Week which was observed from Nov. 12 to 16.

International education is the global two-way flow of students, educators and ideas. In British Columbia, there is much to celebrate.

B.C.’s educational institutions offer a variety of long- and short-term international-exchange and study-abroad programs for students to pursue learning and working opportunities in other countries to

enhance their post-secondary education experience.

“The impact of the learning environment, having students from 12 countries studying in our classrooms and bringing their cultures and traditions is very significant,” says Angus Graeme, President of Selkirk College.

Of Selkirk’s international students, usually 125 to 130 per year or about five per cent of enrollment, more than half are located in Castlegar according to Graeme.

“And they’re not all here for ESL (English as a second language), said Graeme. “So many stay on and enter our other programs.”

There’s room for more international students and a desire to let them know they’re welcome, but the Selkirk College President says there’s a challenge for schools in a more rural setting in attracting new faces from far-flung locations.

“We’ve really had to market our safe, welcoming communities, the rural environment… the access to skiing and the outdoors, and for some of the international students that’s exactly what they’re looking for.”

Graeme was recently in China and indicated an agreement had just been signed last week with a university in Scotland.

“We have partnerships with schools in, China, Korea, Japan, Australia, France… so for a small college it’s pretty significant,” he added.

British Columbia’s educational system is among the most respected in the world. As Canada’s westernmost province and gateway to the Asia Pacific, British Columbia’s cultural diversity and reputation for safety and security make it a popular choice for international students. In 2009/10 there were 94,000 international students in B.C., growing to 100,700 in 2010/11 – an increase of seven per cent in just one year.

In May 2012, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology officially launched British Columbia’s International Education Strategy. Under Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan, the strategy was developed to position the province and its residents to

benefit even more from the social, cultural and economic

opportunities that flow from international education activities.