The online survey was launched in late September 2020, to find out how the pandemic had affected CAPS-I members’ fall 2020 international students programs and enrolment. 

We’ve gone from about forty five fifty thousand international students to fifteen thousand this fall”

As of October 26, 104 members across all 10 of Canada’s provinces had responded to the survey. It was not originally intended for public distribution, but a CAPS-I shared a copy with The PIE News. 

Key findings were that 15,178 international students were studying in Canada in CAPS-I member schools in fall 2020. 

Some 17,584 fewer (1 semester/full academic year) international students were enrolled in fall 2020 and on average 65% fewer international students were enrolled in fall 2020, with 50% of CAPS-I member schools reporting 70-100% fewer students compared to 2019-2020 year enrolment. 

We’ve gone from about 45,000-50,000 international students to 15,000 this fall, which is a reported loss of CAN$220m in tuition fee revenue,” executive director of CAPS-I, Bonnie McKie told The PIE

We started it some time ago before the exemptions were announced. The intention, of course, was that we used it to advocate for the reopening of the borders in terms of being able to quantify our losses,”  she said.

While the situation is likely to improve after Canada opened its borders to some international students in October, the survey shows the scale of the financial damage to CAPS-I members unable to bring students on campus.

“The information in this report will assist members, provincial and federal government authorities and industry stakeholders to identify the extent to which Canadian border restrictions, the lack of exemptions for international students pre-October 20, 2020 and the closure/limited services provided by Visa Application Centres around the globe has impacted the K-12 public school sector and host communities across Canada,” the report said. 

“Understanding the impact of the above mentioned factors and Covid-19 more generally on K-12 international student enrolment, other international initiatives and related programs/services is crucial to gauging when and how the sector will be able to rebuild,” the report added. 

Source: CAPS-I

The survey notes a reported loss of $220 million in long term student revenue estimated to result in a total economic loss of over $450 million including homestay fees and discretionary student spending. 

Members reported over $8.7 million in short term program revenue lost in fall 2020 with Winter/Spring 2021 loss projections expected to be significantly higher. 

In turn this has led to the loss of hundreds of international education related positions and many more teaching positions have impacted according to the survey. 

More than 82 positions in international education departments – including directors, principals, coordinators, and clerical support staff – were “lost due to a decline in international student enrolment”, the report said. 

“120+ Homestay coordinators were laid off due to a decline in enrolment,” it added.

“Many more coordinators have experienced a significant reduction in hours/income or have become ‘inactive.’”

Members also reported 150+ teaching and education assistant positions lost as a result of a loss of revenue. 

“But this is significantly under-reported as most weren’t made privy to details required to quantify the impact on school-based staffing,” the report added.

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