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More international students enrolling, Loyalist board hears

Cathy Rushton speaks at board of governors

Loyalist College’s senior vice-president of finance and corporate services, Cathy Rushton, gives a budget update to board of governors members Thursday. She says more can be done to reclaim lost residence revenue. Photo by Brendan Burke, QNet News

By Brendan Burke [1] 

BELLEVILLE – The rate of Canadian students enrolling at Loyalist College is down, but international student numbers have spiked, the college’s senior vice-president of finance told the board of governors [2] at its first meeting under new college president [3] Ann Marie Vaughan Thursday night. 

“We have continued with the positive trend we’ve been seeing. Although our domestic enrolments are off against budget, our international enrolments are significantly up over budget,” Cathy Rushton said during the meeting’s financial briefing. 

Rushton noted that the jump in international students choosing Loyalist as a post-secondary destination has resulted in “about half a million dollars” in revenue gains over what was budgeted. But the tendency of international students to seek housing outside of on-campus residences, she said, means that more enrolment from abroad hasn’t added up to more money for the college. 

“International students behave quite differently than domestic students, so one of the things we’ve seen is our residence fees are down,” Rushton said. “When we don’t get the number of domestic students we’d expect, they’re not replaced in residence by international students, who prefer different living accommodations.” 

Rushton added that the “hefty” rate already paid by international students just to study abroad prompts many to opt for less expensive living spaces outside of the on-campus residences offered by the college. She recommended that steps to reassess accommodation for international students be taken. 

“If that trend continues, we don’t want to see vacancies at our residences, ” she said.

But while off-campus living has hurt the bottom line, Rushton said, most negatives have been countered by tuition hikes, and there “will be at least a balanced budget” as a result. 

The board, which has 17 members – 13 appointed and four elected – will meet again on Dec. 8.