The Greater Victoria Development Agency is angling for a bigger piece of the lucrative international-student market with a new program called Education Victoria.
Launched Friday in concert with the University of Victoria, Royal Roads University, Camosun College and Tourism Victoria, the campaign is hoping to bring more international students to the Island as both an economic development driver and community builder.
“This represents a significant opportunity not only for economic reasons, but it represents our city’s connection to the world,” said the development agency’s Dallas Gislason. “It brings diverse perspectives to the learning environment which deepens the learning experience for all students.”
Gislason said those students are potential residents and workers in a market that faces a labour shortage over the next 10 years.
But the big driver is money.
Gislason noted international student programs represent an $8-billion bump to the Canadian economy and about $1.8 billion in B.C., where it generates about 21,000 jobs.
The average full-time student will spend $30,000 annually when in the city on tuition, housing, transportation, food and entertainment, he said.
UVic has about 2,000 international students; Camosun and Royal Roads each have about 1,000.
All three schools say they have the capacity to see that number grow. To do that, the $40,000 program will piggy-back on Tourism Victoria’s marketing know-how and will focus heavily on social media campaigns, some ads and trade shows.
There is also a new website (learnvictoria.ca) that went live Friday and lays out the advantages of going to school in Victoria.
Later this month, the program will be shown at ICEF Montreal, the country’s premier education networking event that connects educators with more than 330 student recruitment agents from around the world.
Tourism Victoria chief executive Paul Nursey said getting behind the program — offering their intellectual property — was an easy decision and reflects a more collegial and collaborative approach to both economic development in Victoria and selling the city to the world.
Gislason said after the ICEF show in Montreal, he expects the schools will select specific target markets — likely Vietnam, Mexico and perhaps South Korea — where they will deploy the campaign.
He said the student recruitment program could become a template to be used to attract companies and investment to the area.