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Delta school district hoping for big international student return

Hundreds of international students expressing interest coming to Delta, according to the school district
international students in delta, bc
A file photo of Khanh Nguyen Phuong and Khanh Dao taking a woodworking class at South Delta Secondary.

It’s a program that brings in millions in revenue, but Delta’s International Student Program took a hit due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

However, district officials are anticipating things will begin to turn around as soon as the next school year.

In the 2019/20 school year, the program had 945 students, including short-term students, full-year and graduation track students.

This year that number dropped to 354 students, but the district anticipates 500 will be in Delta for the 2021/22 school year.

Secretary Treasurer Nicola Christ noted that in addition, 435 more students have expressed an interest in coming to Delta.

“Our budget is relatively conservative, so we add about 30-to-40 per cent of our International Student Program net contribution into our original budget and we recognize that the remainder of that as it materializes,” said Christ in a budget briefing last week. “So, currently what that means is that the budget for next year has not recognized anything we don’t believe we can achieve. I have talked to our International Student Program director (Karen Symonds) and I can tell you that the interest in the district is coming along very nicely.

“There are a lot of people interested in the district at the moment ….that ties in very nicely with what we have budgeted for next year. However, what we cannot say at this point in time is whether these students are able to arrive here, so there’s a certain amount of uncertainty in there.

“The same happened last year. We anticipated that we would have a significant loss and in the end we did reasonably well. We did not fully recover, of course, but we did not have the significant losses that we had worried about initially.”

In 2018/19 the district made more than $7 million net from the program.

The district currently faces an operating deficit of more than $2.7 million due to a number of factors including reduced revenues, although no staffing cuts are proposed.

During recent years, the international program demographic was shifting, with more students from Europe and South America making up larger proportions than they had in the past.

Most of the international students in Delta came from China, South Korea, Germany, Brazil, Japan, Vietnam and Italy.

The district views diversity as important in order to maintain a healthy program.