The Fraser Institute says demand for spaces in independent schools in the Lower Mainland is rising faster than they can expand and vacant public schools should be opened up to meet the growing demand.

According to a new study released by the right-wing think tank on Tuesday, 57 per cent of about 150 independent schools in the region had waiting lists, and nearly 2,200 children were waiting for spots in the schools last year.

Study author Jason Clemens says several factors are slowing the expansion of independent schools, including the cost of land in Metro Vancouver, fundraising and zoning laws.

One solution would be to rent out vacant public schools to independent schools to help them expand, says Clemens.

"It doesn't make sense for anybody to have public schools idle that are costing the public system money, when there are independent schools who want to expand and could rent or lease those schools at least for some defined period," he said.

Since overall enrolment peaked in 1997-98, the number of students enrolled in all B.C. schools has declined 8.4 per cent, and public school enrolment has declined by 11.3 per cent, according to the study.

However during that same period, enrolment at independent schools increased by 22.4 per cent, the study found. More than 11.5 per cent of students across the province now attend independent schools, it said.

The findings come as the B.C. government attempts to sign a long term contract with B.C.'s 41,000 teachers following last year's job action.

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  • Institut Le Rosey

    Boarding student annual tuition: <a href="" target="_hplink">$99,566</a> Location: Rolle, Switzerland Founded: 1880 Enrollment: ≈400 students in primary and secondary years Perks: Students can study up to four languages; extensive facilities include 10 tennis courts, an equestrian center and skateboard park; campus sits on almost 70 acres of land; alumni include monarchs and other royals. Source: <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>

  • Middlesex School

    Boarding student annual tuition: <a href="" target="_hplink">$50,320</a> Day student annual tuition: <a href="" target="_hplink">$40,260</a> Location: Concord, Massachusetts Founded: 1901 Enrollment: ≈375 students in grades 9 through 12 Perks: An endowment and long-term investments worth $160 million; over 40 international students with 18 countries represented; 29 sports offered; 27 faculty dogs on campus. Source: <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>

  • Lawrence Academy

    Boarding student annual tuition: <a href="" target="_hplink">$52,640</a> Day student annual tuition: <a href="" target="_hplink">$40,510</a> Location: Groton, Massachusetts Founded: 1793 Enrollment: ≈400 students in grades 9 through 12 Perks: 100-acres campus; Sony Language Laboratory; <a href="" target="_hplink">experiential learning activities</a> such as dog sledding in Minnesota and studying bats in Australian rain forests. Website: <a href="" target="_hplink"> </a>

  • Collège Alpin International Beau Soleil

    Boarding student annual tuition: <a href="" target="_hplink">$93,158</a> Location: Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland Founded: 1910 Enrollment: ≈180 students Perks: A view of the French Alps;<a href="" target="_hplink"> expeditions to places like Madagascar</a>; a diverse student body with not more than 10 percent of any one nationality represented at a time. Source: <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>

  • Eton College

    Boarding student annual tuition: <a href="" target="_hplink">$50,213</a> Location: Windsor, England Founded: 1440 Enrollment: ≈1300 boys from age 13 to 18 Perks: <a href="" target="_hplink">Students study two modern languages </a>in addition to English and mandatory Latin instruction; famous alumni include Olympic athletes and <a href="" target="_hplink">19 British ministers</a>; great odds for college admissions. Source: <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>

  • The Hotchkiss School

    Boarding student annual tuition: <a href="" target="_hplink">$45,350</a> Day student annual tuition: <a href="" target="_hplink">$38,650</a> Location: Lakeville, Connecticut Founded: 1891 Enrollment: ≈600 students in grades 9 through 12 Perks: 827-acre campus; athletic facilities include 15 outdoor tennis courts, two hockey rinks and a golf course; students hail from across the U.S. and 28 other countries; seven levels of language instruction offered in Chinese, French, German, Latin, Greek, Spanish, and Russian. Source: <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>

  • United World College Of South East Asia

    Boarding student annual tuition for high school: <a href="" target="_hplink">$48,403</a> Day student annual tuition for high school: <a href="" target="_hplink">$24,884</a> Location: Dover, Singapore Founded: 1971 Enrollment: ≈3,000 students in kindergarten through grade 12 Perks: Extensive sporting facilities such as 20 badminton courts, six volleyball courts and two Olympic-sized swimming pools; a student body comprising of over 39 nationalities; an environmentally-friendly campus with the world's largest solar powered air conditioning system. Website: <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>

  • The Lawrenceville School

    Boarding student annual tuition: <a href="" target="_hplink">$51,025</a> Day student annual tuition: <a href="" target="_hplink">$42,185</a> Location: Lawrenceville, New Jersey Founded: 1810 Enrollment: ≈800 students in grades 9 through 12 Perks: 700-acre campus with 34 major buildings; famous speakers ranging from singer Jimmy Buffet to Cuban leader Fidel Castro; good chances of attending an Ivy League college (43 students from the school's past three graduating classes <a href="" target="_hplink">enrolled at Princeton</a>). Website: <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>

  • Appleby College

    Boarding student annual tuition: <a href="" target="_hplink">$53,911</a> Day student annual tuition for grades 11-12: <a href="" target="_hplink">$35,989</a> Location: Oakville, Ontario, Canada Founded: 1911 Enrollment: ≈750 students in grades 7 through 12 Perks: Outdoor education program with activities such as high-ropes, canoe trips and wilderness living; 22 athletic teams; a successful model United Nation team that competes on the university circuit. Website: <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>

  • Riverdale Country School

    Day student annual tuition (+ other required fees) for middle and upper school: <a href="" target="_hplink">$42,000</a> Location: Bronx, New York Founded:1907 Enrollment: ≈1,060 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 Perks: 27.5-acres campus makes it the largest school in New York City; distinguished alumni include John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy (who attended the lower school); faculty involved in cutting-edge conferences such as a design thinking workshop and the Aspen Ideas Festival. Website: <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>