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Ontario loses more than $90 M in revenue due to a decline in international student enrollment

OTTAWA, May 9, 2016 – More than $90 M in export revenue for Ontario was lost last year due to a substantial decline in international student enrollment, according to the latest Languages Canada survey data.

The preliminary data shows that between 2014-2015, student numbers in Ontario declined by three per cent. If the province had matched the estimated global language education sector growth rate of five per cent, Ontario should have received 59,406 international language students in 2015 — a difference of more than 4,000 students and $90 M in lost export revenue.

“Ontario’s accredited language programs are facing fierce competition internationally from countries like Australia and New Zealand,” says Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director at Languages Canada. “We also have the issue of non-accredited programs functioning without independent oversight. These programs do not invest in quality assurance, have no way of protecting student investments, and are putting Ontario’s reputation at risk. These factors combined are contributing to the decline in numbers we are seeing.”  

The new data also shows the average number of student weeks in Ontario is 665,607, down nine per cent from the previous year. The Ontario Chapter of Languages Canada, representing 28 public and 62 private language programs, received more than 55,310 international students in 2015. Overall, more than 134,000 students come to Canada every year to learn English and/or French, and up to 36% of them stay after their language program to further their studies in a Canadian university or college.

“There is a real danger in having Ontario’s and Canada’s position decline as is happening now,” says Mr. Peralta. “We must change course before we lose our standing even further. International students provide significant income for Ontario households, community businesses, universities and colleges. They contribute to Canadian and international education, and provide a significant influx of capital for tourism. We must tackle this issue soon in order to remain a leading education destination.”

Canada’s national language education association is holding an event at Queen’s Park today to demonstrate the impact of the language education sector to the success and reputation of Ontario’s education system and its economy, tourism, workforce, and immigration. The association is asking for ongoing government support to continue its work to uphold Ontario’s standing as a leading language education destination. A successful strategy will recognize the unique role language programs play in Ontario’s education system and demonstrate clear actions to support the growth of the language education sector.

Language programs generated $632 million in export revenue, and $72 million in tax revenue, for the Ontario economy in 2015. In the same year, they generated nearly $1.5 billion in export revenue for the Canadian economy.  

Languages Canada is Canada’s national language education association representing more than 225 private and public members that offer accredited English and French programs.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Sarah Snowdon
Communications Manager

Social media: Use the #LCQueensPark hashtag on Twitter!