A new study says Halifax’s low retention rates for international students serves as one of its biggest opportunities for growth.
The Greater Halifax Partnership study, which assesses the municipality’s economy, quality of life and sustainability, said Halifax boasts the regions largest number of international students at just over 6,000.
But Fred Morley, executive vice president of partnership, said students are not putting down roots in the municipality post graduation.
“That means it’s a great opportunity to be working on retaining more students,” said Morley, adding that job security plays a big factor in whether or not students stick around.
Dubbed the Halifax Index, the inaugural report considers the city’s economic strategy and measures Halifax against five other Canadian cities: St. John’s, N.L., Quebec City, London, Ont., Regina, and Victoria.
The index said that about 94 per cent of residents are satisfied with their life – second only to Quebec City – but do not feel a sense of community belonging.
Morley said many residents identify with their individual communities rather than the municipality as a whole.
“In Halifax, we’re a big community. We’re the biggest in Canada,” he said. “But people refer to themselves as ‘I’m from Dartmouth,’ or ‘I’m from Halifax.’”
The report said commercial development has increased, but 96 per cent of the new development was located outside of the urban core.
Consequently, it suggests investing more in downtown development.
It also recommends increasing population density in the urban core where infrastructure and municipal services, such as public transit, already exist.
Morley said the index is meant to create a dialogue about the community’s progress and opportunities to improve.
According to the report, Halifax also ranks second to Victoria for having a high percentage of people who use public transportation (about 12 per cent) or active transportation (11 per cent) to get to work.