Okanagan College vice-president Andrew Hay

Okanagan College vice-president Andrew Hay

Worldly pact struck in Penticton

School district and college team up to draw in more international students

School officials seeking to lure more international students to the region now have help from a higher-education authority.

The Okanagan Skaha School District announced this week it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Okanagan College that will help more of its graduates get into the post-secondary institution.

Superintendent Wendy Hyer noted the two groups already “had a pretty good informal working relationship,” which the new agreement will build upon partly by cross-promoting the programs on overseas recruiting trips.

As well, the college will provide academic advisers to international students and give tours, like the one planned for November for 15 Korean high school students.

Hyer said Asian students in particular are keen to graduate from a high school in Canada or the U.S., which gives them credentials that assist with gaining entrance to a post-secondary institution in North America.

Okanagan College spokeswoman Christine Ulmer said the agreement is the first such pact it has signed with a school district within the region, and was spurred by both parties’ desire to work together to attract more international students.

Hyer acknowledged that none of the district’s international students has yet gone on to Okanagan College, but she noted that only two years ago the program welcomed just 10 kids from Japan who visited to learn English.

“As we grow our program, we hope to hit that market where kids are coming for two or three years to get their (high school diploma) and stay to get their post-secondary,” Hyer said.

Full-time international students pay $12,000 a year in tuition, which the district uses to supplement government funding that’s tied to declining enrolment.

Last year, 24 long-term students produced a profit of $140,000 for the district, which is expecting 30 such visitors this year.