News for International Educators Across Canada
March 2020
Financial worries for educational institutions;
Join us for our Crisis Communications webinar

Just take a look at Italy to realize how quickly the coronavirus pandemic is shifting. Only a week ago, Italian National Tourist Board officials were emphasizing that the outbreak was confined to the northern part of the country - tourists were welcome and safe in the south. Within three days, the virus spread and the government was forced to halt travel throughout Italy. So far, 631 people have been killed and 10,000 infected there.  

International education organizations here in Canada need to be prepared for shifting sands. That's why we are holding a webinar next week on Crisis Communications. Be prepared to communicate clearly and effectively with key stakeholders - students, parents, agents, host families and others. Visit our website or see below for details and to register.

As always, please get in touch if you have any comments or questions!

Join our webinar: Crisis Communications

The coronavirus outbreak has created the need for international education programs to prepare a Crisis Communication Plan to respond to key stakeholders, including students, parents and staff.

You're invited to attend our one-hour webinar Successfully Managing Crisis Communications on Thursday, March 19 at 2 pm Eastern (11 am Pacific).

In the webinar, we'll be covering:


  •  What your crisis communications plan should include
  •  How to be prepared for the changing nature of the coronavirus outbreak
  •  How to convey your messages clearly and calmly
  •  How to use social media to explain the situation

The webinar costs just $49 plus tax per person.

About the presenter
Doug Ronson is a former news reporter and editor who has been a leader for the past 20 years in international education and communications. He advises on communication strategy, prepares press releases and develops web content for a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations. He has presented on effective communications at the annual conferences of the Canadian Association of Public Schools - International (CAPS-I) and Languages Canada. He has provided training in working with the news media to corporations such as Bombardier.
Coronavirus poses financial risk to
Canadian post-secondary schools
The coronavirus outbreak is a huge health crisis - but also will have a significant economic impact. Canada's higher education sector is especially vulnerable, since it is highly dependent on tuition fees paid by international students from China, the centre of the outbreak.

School districts receive considerable government funding so are less exposed to a downturn in international student numbers. On the other hand, private language schools depend almost exclusively on overseas students.

In the post-secondary sector, let's look at two Canadian institutions - Seneca College and Cape Breton University.

At Seneca, about 25 percent of the enrollment is international students. However, the financial dependency is much greater since these students pay much higher tuition than domestic students. It's estimated that international students pay up to 40 percent of the total tuition fees at Seneca.

Decades ago, governments funded a large portion of higher education. That's no longer the case. More than half of Seneca's annual revenues of $453 million comes from students - $249 million to be exact.

At this point, we don't know whether Fall 2020 enrollments in Canadian post-secondary institutions will fall dramatically. Currently, China has suspended testing for IELTS and TOEFL - meaning that students cannot get the English-language certification required by Canadian schools. And potential students would need to meet medical requirements to obtain a study permit.

At Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, more than half of the students are from overseas. Students from India are the largest segment. Fortunately, India has only a few coronavirus cases so far - but as we know, with this virus the situation can change very quickly.

Student demand is another unknown. Currently, Canada has just 93 cases and one death. However, if the outbreak gets worse, students from India and other countries may postpone their studies or choose an alternative destination.

In Australia, the economic impact is already being felt. This month, 107,000 students from China are stranded in their home country on summer break. More than 25,000 have made their way to Australia and are undergoing a two-week quarantine - but the economic fallout will be huge if the rest don't return this semester.

A single Australian school, the University of Sydney, is projecting a $200 million loss this year alone. New South Wales is estimating that the economic impact across the state could be $1.4 billion and that 10,700 full-time jobs could disappear. That includes not just teachers but people who provide all kinds of services to international students - restaurant staff, hair stylists and travel sector employees.

There's a lot of talk about switching to online learning while the outbreak continues. Certainly, that will enable students to continue their education - but it's not a panacea. The economic impact of the coronavirus will still be large.