Why international students matter

One of the real eye openers for me when I ran in the spring election was how many international students live in Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

I’m not sure if that makes us the most international constituency in the province or the most multicultural (unfortunately the Nova Scotia Department of Finance and Treasury Board used to make this data available through its Community Counts program that was cancelled in 2015 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/nova-scotia-s-community-counts-website-axed-in-budget-1.3036721), but it certainly felt that way many days knocking on doors.

An organization I was involved in before and after the election is the EduNova board of directors. EduNova is a co-operative that promotes Nova Scotia as an international education destination. Among EduNova’s members are the province’s universities, the Nova Scotia Community College, a number of independent schools and some great language schools – some of which, like the East Coast School of Languages (http://www.ecslcanada.com), call Halifax Citadel-Sable Island home.

Here are some interesting figures from 2016-2017 about the positive benefits we achieve from welcoming international students to Nova Scotia – courtesy of a study by Corporate Research Associates that was commissioned by EduNova:

• 10,941 international students attended P-12, language school, NSCC or a university in Nova Scotia;
• these students attending school in Nova Scotia came from 153 different countries;
• for every dollar spent by the Nova Scotia government on international students (eg.: campus support), international students themselves spent $3.40 (I would love to have that return in my business!);
• each international student spends an average of $28,985 annually in Nova Scotia; and
• 70% of language school students in Nova Scotia move on to post-secondary institutions in Nova Scotia – the highest percentage of any province in Canada

Attracting international students on the front end helps make a positive difference for our community and our province. Keeping them beyond their studies and encouraging them to choose Nova Scotia and Canada is another subject I’ll talk about in a future post. It came up Monday, July 10, at an Atlantic Leaders Summit organized by the Association of Atlantic Universities that I attended which focused on the international student experience.

On Friday, July 7, I went to a World Student Day 2017 event at Inglis Street Elementary School, joining hundreds of language students, their instructors and community members. Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab represented the Nova Scotia government and Halifax MP Andy Fillmore sent a message through to the organizers. Halifax was one of 12 communities across Canada to host a World Student Day event.

It was great to meet so many people from around the world who are coming to Nova Scotia to change their lives for the better. In turn, they are helping improve our province.

I even got my name written in Mandarin, Korean and Japanese!