International students contribute $88 million annually to Kamloops economy

Final countdown. It is already that time of the year when students can't avoid group projects, assignments and final exams any longer. Business students work on a group project last Saturday night in the Old Main computer lab. PHOTO BY TATIANA SALISBURY

Sarah Makowsky: News Editor Ω

International students at TRU inject an estimated $88 million into the Kamloops economy each year, according to TRU World’s economic impact study.

The study, conducted every five years, evaluates the impact international students at TRU have on the local economy. The figure has more than doubled since the last study in 2006.

“To move from $41 million to $88 million in five years is a significant increase,” said TRU World associate vice-president Wes Koczka.

Basic living costs, including capital purchases such as vehicles and electronics, tuition and fees and money spent by international student visitors are examined by the study.

“Students are not just students. They’re also involved in the community and supporting activities and cultural activities of our university,” said Koczka.

Students don’t just go to school; they are involved with community activities outside campus boundaries.

Koczka wasn’t expecting one figure to be as high as it is.

“I was surprised at the extent of spending generated by international students’ visitors here, in other words, visitors who’ve come to see their international students here,” said Koczka.

Visitors spend a total of $6.7 million dollars during their stay in Kamloops.

“They’re spending that money on hotels, restaurants, entertainment, activities, all in our community,” said Koczka.

During the 2010-2011 school year, TRU expects each international student to spend $30,969 on average. In books and tuition, $14,000 is spent, while $28,000 is spent in Kamloops, $11,000 on basic living expenses and $2,300 on capital purchases.

With this positive impact on the local economy, TRU World isn’t slowing down its international recruitment and will continue to market TRU as a destination for international students.

“We want to continue our international diversification initiatives,” said Koczka.

International students at TRU come from about 10 to 12 different countries, the most popular being China, Saudi Arabia, India, Japan, Taiwan and Germany.

“Where we will increase our international recruitment efforts are in Russia, Turkey and South America,” said Koczka.

He said the “number one important thing” is that students have somewhere to stay, whether it’s student residences, home-stays or apartments.

Another priority is having classroom facilities and labs to accommodate students and recreational facilities to allow students to enjoy life outside the classroom.

“You can see that the impact on our university and our community is significant,” said Koczka.

“What we are going to do is plan for the continued growth of international students so that the students have a quality learning experience here.”