Study shows university’s impact

NANAIMO – International students pump more than $40 million into provincial economy

International students at Vancouver Island University are pumping $42.5 million a year into the provincial economy, according to the institution’s first-ever economic impact study.

Vancouver Island University recently released the results of its $57,000 economic impact study, aimed at validating the benefit of the post-secondary school for taxpayers and potential donors.

According to the report by Roslyn Kunin and Associates, the university has become a ‘positive force’ in the region, pumping $406 million into the economy and generating more than 3,000 jobs.

It also reveals international students have become big players in helping to generate those economic impacts.

While enrolment of domestic students has declined by 15 per cent between the 2006-07 and 2012-13 fiscal years, the international population has jumped by 43 per cent.

They are estimated to contribute $42.5 million to the provincial economy each year – the equivalent of $35,350 for each full time student. International students also generate a total 481 jobs.

“The growth in the number of international students is a very good thing for this region and a good thing for this [university] because you provide the opportunity to increase the capacity of the institution to provide programming to all students,” said Ralph Nilson, president of Vancouver Island University.

“International fees are an income to this institution.”

Nilson said there is a shrinking number of students moving through the K-12 system in central Vancouver Island, creating a lower transition rate into post-secondary school and more space for learners from other parts of the world. The university has been recruiting widely for its programs, he said.

Sasha Angus, CEO of Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, believes the university is not only helping to create a well-educated and diverse work force by attracting bright minds from across Canada and the globe, but triggering economic stimulus while they study in Nanaimo.

“Take a look at what we have to earn to actually spend $35,000,” Angus said. “It’s over $50,000 which is like adding an entire household worth of demand for the local economy.”

The information on international students – and overall economic contribution of the university – is expected to help the university leverage funding from donors. Nilson said he also hopes it will help people understand the incredible benefit of the university and spur engagement in future conversations about how the university can continue to support the changing economy.


  • Vancouver Island University contributes $406 million to regional economy.
  • For each dollar spent by VIU the total direct or indirect impact on the provincial economy is $1.75.
  • 2013-14 FISCAL YEAR university services show a gross domestic impact of $120.8 million – almost as large as the GDP produced by fishing, hunting and trapping industry combined.
  • VIU produces more than 3,095 jobs and has an annual operating budget of $130 million.
  • About 70 per cent of the student body is from the region.
  • Visitors and out-of-region students combined are estimated to contribute $116 million to the provincial economy.