The Canadian government has revealed a new international education plan for international students. The plan titles as “Building on Success: Canada’s International Education Strategy (2019-2024),” obligates CDN$148 million in the span of 5 five years to initiatives for international education, along with an additional CDN$8 million each year for on-going funding.
The plan focuses majorly on two areas: encourage more Canadians to go abroad to pursue studies and expand the source markets the educational institutes of Canada.
The strategy will also extend Canada’s Student Direct Stream (SDS), which will permit students that submit applications and other documents online to get faster access to visa. For now, the SDS is available to students of India, China, Philippines, Vietnam and now Pakistan. The SDS will be made available to more markets by 2024.
What seems to be missing from the Canadian international education strategy is a goal for an increase in the number of international students. Canada had released a national recruitment strategy back in 2014, where the government had planned to have 450,000 international students studying in Canadian institutions by 2022.
The number was reached within three years; in fact, the numbers went much above than what was targeted. By 2017 there were 494,525 students, and in the following year the number reached 572,415 after addition of 80,000 international students registering a growth of 16.3%
The growth trend of Canada is quite similar to that of Australia that saw a growth percentage of 12.6% in 2017 and then 11.4% in 2018. This over-dependence of Australia on international enrolments, especially students coming from China, has intrigued the critics who have raised red flags over this situation.
Chinese students also form a large percentage of Canadian students. Not far behind is the population of Indian students. Indian and Chinese students together formed 55% of the international students enrolled in Canadian educational institutes for the year 2018.
The observers, however, are troubled by the question of how Canada would manage the growth considering the broadened scope for enrolling international students.
Of the large budget CDN$24.1 million over five years and CDN$5.4 million on-going are solely set aside for new digital marketing efforts targeting prospective students from countries like Brazil, Mexico Morocco, Colombia, France, Philippines, Vietnam, Ukraine, Indonesia, Thailand and Turkey.
The government of Canada says that this new marketing plan will comprise of ‘new tools, channels and technologies’ that impact the preferences of international students and will ‘fully capitalize on the EduCanada brand’ which was formed in 2016 to support the benefits of Canadian education across the globe.
Although tapping the other markets source international students will be the primacy of this strategy, India and China will continue to remain the significant markets.
Improving Outbound Mobility
The current plan focuses on concerns such as:
Canadian students hold relevant academic and technical knowledge, but they lack work experience and soft skills.
They tend to pursue work abroad in a much lesser percentage compared to the students belonging to highly developed economies. Just 11% of undergraduates from Canada go out to other countries to work, whereas 33% of students from France take up work in other countries. This percentage is19% in Australia and 16% in the United States and Canada does need to work on this percentage.
Also included in this five-year project is aid of between CDN$5,000 to CDN$10,000 each year to 11,000 undergraduate students to pursue work or for further studies abroad, especially in America and Latin America.
The project is initially targeting students with disabilities, low-income students and students belonging to indigenous groups.
Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, A. Hajdu speaking about the importance on outbound mobility said, that when the students of Canada are given a chance to work or study abroad, they cultivate skills such as ‘resilience, adaptability, problem-solving and intercultural proficiencies.’
They also form new relationships which help them get suitable employment, ultimately helping them to earn higher. The students will get a chance to develop skills that are esteemed at the international level, thereby creating a permanent pathway of success for themselves, he added.
The planned budget will promote a program called International Experience Canada that helps Canadians of age 18-35 to travel and work to one of the 30 countries that Canada has partnered with.
The President of Universities Canada (96 universities), Paul Davidson, told the media that the educationalists were quite happy with the countries that were picked by the Canadian government for the ‘outbound mobility push’ as the higher education community were also forward to this selection for the past 20 years.
“We don’t want to be poachers of talent, and we want to be partners”, he said.” CEO and President of Colleges and Institutes Canada, Denise Amyot said that the organization was delighted to be co-administering the new project in collaboration with Universities Canada.
Amyot said that work and study programs for abroad were crucial international learning experiences for a world that is currently progressively globalized as this warrants that the students are “resilient, culturally literate and adaptable.” The students under the outbound student mobility plan will be equipped with skills that will help them withstand the competitive market of today.
President and CEO of the Canadian Bureau for International Education, Larissa Bezo also backed the idea and said she too was committed to making the outbound mobility pilot a success.
In one of the studies conducted by the CBIE where 7,000 Canadian students were surveyed, it was found that 86% of students were looking forward to studying abroad. However, 80% of the students said that they needed financial backup to study in abroad.
Minister of International Trade Diversification, James Carr said that International students contributed $21.6 billion to the GDP of Canada last year in 2018. They also filled in 170,000 job positions required by Canada.
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