Efforts to attract more international students to local classrooms took an important step forward last month when the Okanagan Skaha School District signed deals with two private schools in China.
The “one-plus-two” agreements will allow Chinese students who complete Grade 10 at those schools to finish Grades 11 and 12 in this district and graduate with a B.C. diploma, superintendent Wendy Hyer this week told a school board committee meeting.
She signed the two agreements during a trip to China in March and a third deal is pending.
The superintendent said the value of a B.C. diploma lies in its acceptance by North American universities, which generally have more relaxed entrance standards than Chinese schools.
Hyer said after the meeting that the new deals could provide a significant boost to international recruitment, but, “until we see whether people are actually interested in the program, we won’t really know.”
The school board moved last year to ramp up international efforts to not only inject culture into local classrooms, but also to raise money; a full-year international student pays $12,000 in tuition.
So far, the district has registered for next fall 27 long-term international students, who will stay for either a full or half year. This year, 24 long-term students generated a profit of $99,000, according to Hyer.
International students brought to the area through Rotary exchange programs or the Okanagan Hockey Academy aren’t included in that figure, nor are short-term students who stay for as little as a few weeks.
Hyer said the district has so far spent $15,000 on its enhanced international efforts, including $5,000 for new marketing materials and $10,000 for recruitment and staff travel abroad. She said the Chinese government covered expenses for the March trip.