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Student Enrolment in British Columbia

Student enrolment in public schools in British Columbia declined by nearly 10% in the last 16 years. During this same period, independent school enrolment grew by nearly 40%.

Between 2000–01 and 2016–17, the full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrolment for public schools in BC declined by 48,985.3 (or 8%)%. Over the same period, enrolment in independent schools rose by 23,717.9 or 41%.

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Over the past 16 years, the number of adult students in public schools fell by over a third2; a decline that is partially attributable to changes in tuition fee policies brought in by the government.3

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Adult basic education was tuition-free prior to 2003 and between 2008 and 2014. Whenever tuition fees for adult education were charged to students, the number of adult students quickly dropped below 20,000. Between 2000–01 and 2016–17, the number of adult students in public schools fell by 44.4%.

While general enrolment has declined, the numbers of students enrolled in language programs have significantly increased.4

Between 2000–01 and 2016–17, the full-time equivalent student enrolment in English language learning (ELL) programs increased by 11.2%. Enrolment in French immersion programs has increased by 86.4%.

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The number of international students in BC public schools has also skyrocketed.5

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Between 2000–01 and 2016–17, the non-resident full-time equivalent student enrolment in public schools increased by 12,629.8, an increase of almost 400%.  

As of 2016–17, there are 15,580.3 non-resident FTE students enrolled in BC public schools.

There have been significant changes in the number of students designated with special needs over the past 16 years. Students with high incidence (unfunded) special needs designations have declined significantly, while students in low incidence (funded) categories have increased.6

Between 2000–01 and 2016–17, the number of students in categories that continue to receive funding (Level 1, 2, and 3 funding) have increased by nearly 66%. The majority of the increase has been in the number of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (G designation) and Physical Disability/Chronic Health Impairment (D designation) designations. In comparison, there has been a decrease of nearly 40% in the number of students in categories that no longer receive funding, such as gifted students (P designation), or students who require moderate behaviour support/mental illness (R designation), or have learning disabilities (Q designation).

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Source:

1 BC Ministry of Education. (2004–16). Student Statistics – (Various Years) Province - Public and Independent Schools Combined. Victoria: Government of British Columbia.

2 Ibid.

3 Ministry of Advanced Education. (2016). Adult Basic Education: A Guide to Upgrading in British Columbia's Public Post-Secondary Institutions An Articulation Handbook 2016/17 Edition. Victoria: Government of British Columbia.

4 BC Ministry of Education. (2004–16). Student Statistics – (Various Years) Province - Public and Independent Schools Combined. Victoria: Government of British Columbia.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.



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