Vancouver Global Education City plans revealed

October 09, 2013

CIBT Education Group has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop a Global Education City (GEC) in the Greater Vancouver Regional District, BC, Canada, including campus space for international educators and an international student hotel.

Located near a proposed Skytrain station and in close proximity to the airport and major roads to downtown Vancouver, the project would be the first such education super centre in North America, according to CIBT. “The concept is to create a single location for students, educators and education service firms to do business in an education-centric environment,” said CIBT in a statement.

The CIBT Group will become the anchor tenant, co-investor and principal managing partner of the proposed GEC project, with its subsidiary schools, including Sprott Shaw College and Ascenda School of Management, expected to utilise a percentage of the campus space, while remaining space will be available to other public and private educational institutions and support firms.

The hotel would have the capacity to house up to 600 international students, while CIBT is in negotiations with other real estate developers to co-establish more student residences and education micro-centres at major Skytrain stations.

Student accommodation cost and capacity in Greater Vancouver is a major barrier for international students, said Toby Chu, CEO and Vice Chairman of CIBT Group. “With the BC government planning to increase the number of international students that come to BC by 50 per cent in the next four years and the fact that many North American schools (public and private) are focussing their efforts on recruiting international students to study in North America, we identified an immense gap in fulfilling the affordable housing needs of these international students,” said Chu.

Education agents will also be central to the project, with 30 per cent of the proposed office tower space to be sold or leased to agents, immigration lawyers and other professional services related to international education.

“These education agents contribute a significant volume of business to BC’s education sector. For CIBT Group alone, over CAN$26 million (US$25 million) of annual tuition was referred to our schools via these agents during the most recently completed fiscal year. Agents will be highly motivated to be located within the complex of the GEC to increase their business with schools focussed on international education,” said CIBT’s statement.

“With 20 years of operating experience in the global education market and innovative leadership in the education sector, CIBT Group has the in-depth knowledge of the needs and concerns of international students and their parents,” said Chu.

With the memorandum of understanding, CIBT has entered into the due diligence stage of the project. The planned GEC is subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions including completion of a re-zoning application process and obtaining relevant municipal approvals. The total estimated budget for the project is CAN$350 million (US$337 million).

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