Foreign students decrease
By Karena Walter
Foreign graduate students are on the decline in Canadian Universities according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education.
The bureau, based in Ottawa, will be releasing a report on Friday which says international student enrollment at the university graduate level has experienced an 18.5 per cent decrease since 1992-93.
Research manager Christine Jamieson said, unlike Canada, certain countries including Australia and the United Kingdom are experiencing increases in foreign enrollment and the bureau can only speculate as to why. "It's probably because they've put a concentrated effort forth, drawing students to their institutions."
Western's office of institutional planning and budgeting reports an increase of international students in graduate studies over the past three years. In 1994/95 there were 171 full-time students, but by 1996/97 the number was 197. This is higher than the national average, as the bureau reported a 4.2 per cent decrease of international graduate students from 1995-96 to 1996-97.
"We're tryng to increase enrollment of international students," said Alan Weedon, dean of Western's graduate studies. One way the university has done this is by increasing the number of scholarships available to international students, doubling them from 40 to 80 this year.
However, a decrease of foreign graduate students at Western from 257 in 1993/94 to 171 in 1994/95 may be attributed to an increase of international tuition fees by the provincial government. "That had put Ontario at a disadvantage as far as recruiting," Weedon said, adding the increased fees put foreign students in the same category as executive MBA students.
At least one Western student attributes scholarships as a positive recruitment tool. Richard Hardie, a musicology PhD student from New Zealand, said he probably would not have come to Western without the scholarship incentive. "When you come as an international student you can't work here, even in your field."
Although Ontario has had a decline in international student enrollment, British Columbia has increased 54 per cent since 1993-94 at the elementary, secondary and college/trade levels. Jamieson said she thinks it is not only due to the West Coast location but because the province has an organization to promote international education.
The B.C. Centre for International Education is a government-funded group which has existed since 1990 and works with 25 post-secondary institutions in the province, said Christine Savage, the director of BCCIE. The centre is one-of-a-kind in Canada, although Alberta started a similar centre this year.
Western's vice-provost and registrar Roma Harris, said the university is increasing its attempts to be known internationally by providing materials in educational fairs and visiting secondary schools.
"If you're going to develop good relations internationally, you have to do a lot of individual work," she said.
The Society of Graduate Students is currently conducting a survey to find out how much information students receive before they come to Western and if they need more. Kelly Barrowcliffe, co-chair of the International Student Issues Committee, said the survey will cover everything from tax information to gatherings and the results will be in by the beginning of December.