The number of international students coming to Canada doubled in the past decade. But in the last year, a number of events globally have added to its appeal for some students. The Brexit vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, and the U.S. election, seem to have been factors.
“Business leaders want to hire graduates with international skills and perspectives, who are comfortable working across languages and cultures,” says Universities Canada President Paul Davidson. Yet challenges remain for the more than 80% of Canadian universities who have “internationalization” as part of their strategic plans. Recent data shows that only 3% of Canadian university students study abroad, and the article details some of the efforts that Canadian schools are making to help boost these participation rates.
Representatives across Canada’s PSE community have delivered messages of welcome and congratulations to Canada’s new Liberal government. Universities Canada has said that it looks forward to working with Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau “to advance dialogue and action on higher education, research and innovation.” Members of the Canadian Association of University Teachers have also expressed their congratulations, although they urge the incoming government to act quickly on promises made during the campaign, especially as these promises relate to PSE. Among the priorities listed by the CAUT are the restoration of the mandatory long-form census, the “unmuzzling” of Canadian scientists, and the improvement of the Canada Student Grants and Canada Student Loans Program. Colleges and Institutes Canada has said that it hopes the new government will support “innovative training and applied research that make Canada’s colleges and institutes some of the strongest in the world.”
Universities Canada has released a series of four policy briefs outlining its positions on issues relevant to the upcoming federal election. On the topic of student mobility, they recommend that the next government initiate “a bold program of support for short-term domestic and international student mobility” to improve graduates’ understanding of domestic and international issues. On labour market issues, they argue for the creation of more paid co-op and internship opportunities. They advocate increased programming funding for Indigenous students and communities as well as more student support and financial assistance. On the issue of research and innovation, they recommend sustained funding for the federal granting councils and enhanced support for early-career researchers and international partnerships.
In a recent speech before the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Universities Canada President Paul Davidson said that many people are “too fixated on the price tag” of postsecondary education. Davidson said that many calls for lower tuition neglect the broad range of scholarships, bursaries, and other financial aid options that can help offset the cost of an education. “Tuition is not an insurmountable barrier,” he said. “Our studies and other studies show that people overestimate the cost of higher education and underestimate the earning premium that they will achieve as the result of attending a university.” Some students took exception to Davidson’s remark; Michaela Sam, Chair of the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia, said that the comment “disregards the reality that students face today.”