Fairbairn says international students one of TRU's 'greatest strengths' as feds consider immigration cap

TRU touts int'l numbers

As Ottawa floats the idea of capping the number of foreign students allowed into the country, Thompson Rivers University's president is hailing international students as one of the institution's "greatest strengths."

Brett Fairbairn, TRU’s president and vice-chancellor, said in a report to be presented to the university’s senate on Monday that international students studying in Canada have received blame from some for the housing crisis.

“The international diversity present at TRU is one of our institution’s greatest strengths,” the report read.

“The mixing of ethnicity and international perspectives in such an environment helps our students and our community broaden their knowledge and understanding of different worldviews.”

According to the report, the university has increased the number of on-campus resident beds by 71 per cent since 2018, raising the total bed count from 876 to 1,498.

Following the construction of 148 added to the East Village residence, the total bed count will reach 1,646, marking a total 88 per cent increase since 2018.

The new East Village is expected to open for the winter semester — four months later than planned.

“TRU recognizes the importance of quality housing for our students and its role in their overall well-being and academic success,” Fairbairn says in the report.

Currently, there are over 4,400 international students on campus, coming from 104 different counties.

As of Aug. 27, the total number of international on-campus registrants was 4,425 from 104 countries, making up a total of 15,632 course registrations.

This marks an increase from last year, which saw 3,496 international registrants and 12,618 course registrations by the same date.

Federal housing minister Sean Fraser recently floated capping the number of student visas as a solution to the housing crisis.

Immigration minister Marc Miller raised concerns that some of the critiques of the current immigration strategy are motivated by bigotry.

Miller added that immigration could be part of the solution to the housing crisis by filling the gaps in the construction industry’s labour shortage.

In January, Fairbairn told TRU’s senate that sagging domestic enrolment numbers were being buoyed by strong demand from international students.

International students made up nearly half of TRU’s on-campus student population during the last winter semester.

Fairbairn’s report will be presented to the university’s senate on Monday.

More Kamloops News