International high school student numbers growing
Public high schools across the country are welcoming a growing number of international students in an effort to build valuable relationships and — in some cases — boost revenue.
Though international students make up only a small fraction of high schoolers, administrators in Ontario and British Columbia say they’ve seen a spike in recent years, with some school boards reporting their ranks have doubled.
The Toronto District School Board, which has one of the largest such programs in the country, says it sees an increase in its international population of five to 10 per cent each year, with close to 2,000 foreign students attending last year. Fakhruddin Khudayar, 18, was one of them. The Grade 12 student from Afghanistan finished high school in June, but he’s returning to East York Collegiate Institute in Toronto for a semester this fall to take a few extra math and English courses.
He plans to study accounting at Seneca College or the University of Toronto next September.
Khudayar said he moved to Canada with his parents and three younger brothers in 2013 — just before starting Grade 9 — because it’s a great place to live. They also have relatives in Toronto.
The education is good, it’s clean and there is no violence, he said. “Back in my country, there is war,” Khudayar said. “And I couldn’t live with it. (Here), I can live in peace.”
School boards say they are making concerted efforts to draw more international students to their halls, participating in recruiting events around the globe, partnering with education agents and working to identify emerging markets.
“Every province, including the territories, they have international student programs,” said Smita Sengupta of the Toronto District School Board. “This is a trend in school boards in Ontario as well as throughout Canada.”
Vancouver, Surrey, B.C., and Coquitlam, B.C., are among the most popular school districts for international students, with Toronto and nearby York Region also ranking high, according to the Canadian Association of Public Schools — International, an organization representing 133 public school districts across Canada with international student programs.