Why more and more international students are calling London home
Enrolment at London Language Institute has increased by about 15 per cent
A downtown school that teaches English as a second language is looking to open a second location following a spike in international student enrolment.
"People are looking for a city like London," said Justin Wismer, one of the directors at London Language Institute. "London has so much to offer to the international student."
The campus on Central Avenue has offered ESL programs, among others, for international students from more than 15 countries worldwide for about two decades.
Last year, the school accepted its highest number of students – nearly 1,500 – a 14 per cent increase from the year before.
Wismer said London's prime location and reasonable cost of living makes it a hot spot – drawing students from China, Columbia, Brazil, India and Saudi Arabia.
"The safety, the community being open, the university and college making London an educational city is very attractive," said Wismer. "Also, the cost of living as compared to bigger markets and the proximity to go to Niagara Falls on trips and Toronto is very attractive."
The private school prepares students for post-secondary programs, with about 35 per cent of its students enrolling into Fanshawe College and Western University afterwards.
Last year, 400 London families offered home stays to many of the international students.
"Families open up their homes for a number of reasons and it's not financial," said Wismer. "They may have some young children and they want to expose them to diverse cultures … others have children who are off to university and they have the empty nest syndrome."
The school has expanded programs into about 75 schools across more than five countries in the last four years.
Wismer said the school is set to expand to a second location, almost double the size of its current campus, along Talbot Street in downtown London.
If approved by the city, a second campus could double the number of international students enrolling by next summer.