Canada pursuing more international university students

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Canadian government has announced plans to increase the number of international students attending university in Canada.

In a public statement Jason Kenney, federal minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, recognized the integral role international students play as a source of revenue for universities.

“We need a labour force with the skills and the knowledge to keep our economy competitive in the new global marketplace,” Kenney recently told a delegation in India.

“International recruitment has become a heavier priority over the last three years due to program expansions,” Stephanie Brooks, recruiting director for the Honours Business Administration program at the Richard Ivey School of Business, said.

Brooks, who works closely with Western’s international recruitment services, believes particular programs at Western " especially engineering, science and business " tend to attract international students.

“Ivey has full-time staff in Hong Kong allowing the school to build a strong brand name there,” Brooks said.

However, with the number of high-quality educational opportunities rapidly growing in countries such as India and China, it is becoming more important to provide incentives for foreign students to pursue a more expensive Canadian education.

Brooks responded to these concerns by emphasizing the brand consciousness of students abroad with regard to Canadian universities and the country as a whole.

Other draws to Canadian universities include program partnerships between universities in Canada and abroad.

Wang Dong Yuan and Jing Di, two students from China, were attracted to Huron University College both by its partnership with the Dongbei University of Finance and Economics and Western’s economics program.

“[Western] is famous for economics in China because of a Chinese economist that teaches here, professor Xu Dianqing,” Yuan said.

However, despite Western’s efforts to attract international students, the number of full-time undergraduate international students has dropped from 774 in 2002 " 4.3 per cent of all undergraduates at the time " to 618 in 2008 " 3.1 per cent of all undergraduates " according to Western’s Office of Institutional Planning and Building.

The opposite trend has occurred amongst graduate students.

“At the graduate level there has been quite robust growth in the number of international students,” John Doerksen, Western vice-provost of academic programs and students, said.

From 2002 to 2008, the number of international graduate students enrolled at Western increased from 390 to 665.

According to Doerksen, the internationalization of the undergraduate experience has become a larger priority for Western rather than international recruitment. This is being achieved through international educational initiatives included in Western’s strategic plan, Engaging The Future.

However, Doerksen also stressed the importance of exchange programs that bring international undergraduate students to Western.

“Students have the opportunity to experience other cultures and that has enormous benefits, both for personal development and for professional development.”

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