A new focus by the provincial government to attract international students to British Columbia schools could prove a useful arrow in the quiver of those battling to keep Kwalikum Secondary School open in Qualicum Beach.
This week, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she wants to attract more foreign students to B.C. schools as a way to attract both needed revenue and as many as 22,000 new jobs in the province.
Speaking at a special council meeting Wednesday, Coun. Mary Brouilette said the new focus could prove valuable in the KSS fight.
“The government is looking to attract 50 per cent more foreign students,” she said. “This certainly would be something for our trustees and community groups to look at. Because of our circumstance, this could be really good timing.”
Mayor Teunis Westbroek agreed, noting that the town’s KSS consultant is very familiar with the international scene.
“He was actually a trail blazer on having foreign students come to B.C.,” he said. “He is highly regarded and has done a yeoman’s job of attracting students from all over the world.”
In his report to council on the options for keeping Kwalikum Secondary School open, Player noted that crowding all the area’s high school students into Ballenas Secondary would seriously jeopardize the thriving international student program in the district, a program that brings in a significant revenue stream.
Provincewide, international students generate $1.25 billion for the provincial economy.
Brouilette said if the province is serious about increasing the number of international students in B.C., providing such a disincentive in the Oceanside area would be a mistake.
“If that can be reinforced with the province it would be very prudent for our school to access that,” she said. “I think they would look very positively on Player’s report.”
Again, Westbroek agreed.
“It puts a whole new meaning on that report,” he said.