Written by Diwakar Sharma
Academicians and economists have different views on the education sector as a business entity. Those who are involved in the specialized area of student recruitment clearly understand that education institutions have to adopt a new model. As importance is given to internationalization of education by relaxing student visa regulation, as service providers all academic institutions must redesign academic programs as per the need of the job market. When we look at the mushrooming of private academic institutions operating under affiliation with different Indian universities, a total disconnect between education and job market is foreseen. Rising unemployment in India and an increasing number of graduates with degrees in hand but bare minimum soft skills makes it difficult for the industry to provide employment. It is the responsibility of the student recruiter to provide basic information to aspiring prospective students who want to gain admission in Canadian Universities and Community Colleges.
Education in Canada is structured and regularly monitored by the Ministry of Education and partners from the industry. The education providers constantly make changes in course curriculum as per the demand from industry experts. With updated course curriculum, Canadian Colleges and Universities provide not only the hard skills but the soft skills which make it easier for the candidate to secure a job within six months of graduation. Applicants from India should be briefed about the difference in education standards and they should be well-prepared to cope with the academic pressure in Canada.
It has been noted the majority of Asian students struggle in first semester as they are not aware of policies regarding academic misconduct and many get involved with plagiarism. A proper understanding of APA and MLA style of writing should be given to the students who intend to enroll in Universities and Colleges. Many students assume that they can take on jobs while studying without understanding that employment is not always easy to get. A proper budget should be allocated for room and board and personal expenses so that students don’t have to indulge in antisocial activities. Canada is a friendly country and hosting international students is a matter of pride but this is not sustainable with the unemployment or underemployment rates of permanent, Canadian residents. In the past, legislation prevented international students from seeking employment; with new amendments, visiting students have been given more access to the job market.
While international students contribute to the Canadian economy by paying fees and rent or buying commodities for daily use, people are concerned international students are taking jobs away from local residents. With few jobs available, this puts direct pressure on Canadian society and economy. Various employers provide work opportunities to students as they tend to save money by paying beneath minimum wages to jobseekers willing to take cash-paid jobs. Government resources take a direct hit when people apply for Employment Insurance or try to get welfare because they cannot find gainful employment.
Adaptation and integration are core Canadian values, ensuring the country continues to welcome growing numbers of international students. Student recruiters and education providers do not want to see drastic changes in the student visa process which might yield negative results. If we look at the trends in the UK, it is clear the pressure from local residents pushed the government to impose restrictions on international students and work permit seekers. At the moment, Canada is following a system comparable to the Australian system.
When we examine comparisons across students from China and India, we can see a shift in the policy and planning done by the Chinese parents. It is observed that more students are choosing Canada as a destination and many of them are attending high schools primarily in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. Gaining university or college admission is easier coming from a Canadian high school because of the structure and partnerships between schools. Pathway programs help international students by providing them a direct access to admissions in prestigious universities. High school students are also exempt from IELTS and, once they complete their high school diploma in Canada, they are fully equipped with the necessary tools required for success in universities. Indian students should be briefed about the pathway programs and high schools so that they could take advantage of an early start in Canada.
Diwakar Sharma is the Senior International Recruitment Officer (South East Asia & Middle East) for TAE International Institute. He is also a member of TESL-Ontario, AMIC-Singapore, and PRSI India.