The Richmond campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University is hoping to help grow its enrolment numbers by having a place for students to live close to the school.
And part of that increase is anticipated to come from overseas.
Jeff Norris, KPU’s chief advancement officer, told the Richmond News the establishment of a new, $36-million design school — scheduled to open in July 2015 — is one aspect driving the need for adjacent housing.
“Having that building and that particular program in there as a national and international destination is one of the factors,” said Norris following a presentation to the City of Richmond’s general purposes committee earlier this week.
“What we are envisioning for our student housing is that it will be something for those outside of the Lower Mainland,” Norris said, adding it will also be an option for the 1,200 to 1,400 international students — about 10 per cent of the school’s overall enrolment — who come to KPU on a yearly basis.
Still in the planing stages, the housing project is expected to provide room for about 600 students.
But just where it might be situated has yet to be decided.
“Our preference is to have it located as close to the campus as possible, if not on the campus itself,” Norris said. “But we are limited to the 10 acres (at the Lansdowne Road location). It could fit there, if it made sense, but that would hamper future growth.”
And that growth is anticipated to be quite significant.
“We’re targeting five per cent growth annually for the next five years. And when you start to compound that, we’re really looking to double our institutional initiatives over the next 10 years,” Norris said.
Moreover, that growth is expected to be fueled by an increase in international students who pay a premium — about four times more in tuition — to attend school here.
According to KPU’s website, students who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents pay between $126 to $194 per credit for tuition. Student fees — listed as paying for libraries, technology and student life — also range from $8.82 to $13.62 per credit. International students pay a flat $500 per credit for tuition, and $20 per credit for student fees.
That difference accounts, in part, for the lack of a government subsidy for education which only domestic students are granted. However, even with the government subsidy, the institution receives about twice as much from international students than from domestic students.
Norris said the province’s contribution amounts to roughly 40 per cent of the total tuition cost, with the student also paying 40 per cent, and outside fundraising by the school taking up the remaining 20 per cent.
The $500 per credit for international students also provides for some additional services specific to those from outside the country, including co-ordination of home stays, Norris said.
Still, there is a profit to be made from that segment of the school’s population.
While it is difficult to determine exactly how much is made in Kwantlen’s case — due to ranging program fees — Norris said that overall in B.C., international student fees accounted for $1.8 billion in tuition for post-secondary institutions.
In most cases that money is used to help provide additional classroom seats for domestic students, said Norris. “For every 10 to 11 international students that allows for an entire class of domestic students, over and above the government subsidy.”
But drawing international students is not an avenue Kwantlen is pursuing solely for the greater economic return it can bring, Norris noted.
“We really talk about having global citizens, or internationalizing the curriculum,” he said. “It’s really important to have a strong mix that reflects the world right now.”
Topping the list of countries sending students to Kwantlen is China, next is India. and in third place is Saudi Arabia. The majority from overseas enrol in business courses.
Also helping spur the growth of enrolment locally is Kwantlen’s application to the provincial government to start up a school for traditional Chinese medicine.
“We would love to be able to offer it, but are still awaiting approvals from the province as to which institution they would like to have offering that program,” Norris said.
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