Decline in international students is having significant impact on B.C. economy

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      A fair number of homeowners may find it more challenging to make mortgage payments as a result of recent drop in the number international students coming to Canada.

      That's because various homestay programs place these students in people's homes.

      The decline in international students is also having an impact on the English-as-an-additional-language industry, particularly in Vancouver, which contributes an estimated $500 million per year to B.C.'s gross domestic product.

      That's been reflected in widespread layoffs, according to the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of B.C.

      Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada data reported a 30.5 percent decline in study permits—from 96,360 to 66,990—granted to international students in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019.

      In the first four months of 2020, the number from China fell 43.4 percent—from 21,304 12,065—compared to the same period of 2019.

      These drops coincided with Canada imposing a two-week quarantine requirement on international travellers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

      India has been the the source of the largest number of international students in recent years.

      The first four months of 2020 saw 28.2 percent fewer study permit holders from that country compared to January to April of 2019, when 30,480 were granted.

      According to a 2017 study by Roslyn Kunin & Associates, "there is significant positive value associated with international students studying in Canada".

      Tax revenue from international students alone added up to $2.8 billion in 2016.

      "We estimate that, in 2015 and 2016 respectively, international students in Canada spent around $12.8 billion and $15.5 billion on tuition, accommodation and discretionary spending," the report stated.

      By 2018 the figure rose to $21.6 billion, according to a federal government report. And by 2019, the number of new study permit holders reached 402,055—a jump of more than 50 percent above the figure in 2016.

      Last year, the B.C. Teachers' Federation reported that in 2017-18, international students paid $256.8 million in tuition to B.C. pubic school districts.

      That accounted for about five percent of revenue to all districts, but most of the money actually went to 10 districts in Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria.

      The largest increase in recent years has been among college students, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

      The Kunin study stated Ontario received 49.7 percent of the overall share of GDP generated by international students, followed by B.C. at 21.6 percent and Quebec at 13 percent.