OTTAWA — Canada's schools must stop charging foreign students higher tuition fees than Canadians pay, a government report said Friday in a bid to attract more of the foreigners who have boosted the economy.
The report prepared for Trade Minister Ed Fast noted that Australia and New Zealand have eliminated differential tuition fees for foreign graduate and post-doctoral students, respectively.
In Canada, foreign students pay from twice to six times more than local students to attend college or university.
"Given the competition in the global international education market, educational policy makers may need to re-examine the practice of differential tuitions and fees," the report concluded.
In October, Fast tasked a panel of university chiefs to come up with ways to attract more foreign students and researchers to the country, as part of Canada's overall economy strategy.
His spokesman told AFP that the report will be incorporated into their proposals.
According to the document, foreign students contributed more than $8 billion to Canada's economy in 2010, up from $6.5 billion in 2008.
On educational services, countries such as China, France, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the United States spent 14 to 44 percent of the value of the goods they import from Canada.
"Canada's educational expertise is a valuable export that can be measured in comparison to other goods and service exports," said the report.
"International students can also become a valuable source of highly skilled labor to our economy at a time when the western world is facing potential labor shortages, especially among top talent."
The report found there were 218,000 full-time international students in Canada in 2010 -- mostly from China and South Korea -- up from 178,000 in 2008 and more than double the number of students in 1999.
Ontario and British Columbia hosted nearly two thirds of international students in Canada (85,300 and 60,500 respectively) while Quebec, which saw major student protests this year over planned tuition hikes, was a distant third.
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