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Canada: bold vision to double ed exports

Canada should double the number of international students studying in Canada within 10 years; to be twice the 239,000 it welcomes today, an advisory panel on international education has suggested. It has also suggested which markets should be prioritised in a bid to foster that growth.

75% of Canada's workforce growth now comes from immigration

“International education is a key driver of Canada’s future prosperity” heralds the report released this week by the panel, commissioned by the Canadian government to consult with the sector and advise on a new international education strategy.

The Minister for International Trade recently revealed that the sector contributed CAN$8billion to the Canadian economy in 2010, but the panel urges the government  – which will now consider its findings – to develop strategies, including a “competitive scholarship environment”, to build on what it says is Canada’s competitive advantage in the sector.

Target markets are identified: China, India, Brazil, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Turkey, Vietnam and Mexico

Echoing the observations of Education New Zealand in its recent Statement of Intent, the panel also highlights the “tremendous scope for economic contributions from the direct export of Canadian education services abroad” and recommends more be done to also encourage Canadians to study abroad.

The panel has made 14 recommendations to boost outbound and inbound student traffic. They include introducing an International Mobility Programme for Canadian Students to serve 50,000 students per year by 2022 and cohesive government collaboration through a new Council on International Education and Research that will consult with ministers of international trade, finance, citizenship and immigration, and industry.

Targeted marketing to priority markets is also suggested, as is developing bilateral agreements with priority countries. Target markets are identified: China, India, Brazil, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Turkey, Vietnam and Mexico. (Mature markets of South Korea, the USA, France and the UK also remain important.)

Expedited visa processing is also called for (Canada was criticised earlier this year by Saudi Arabia for slow processing) and comprehensive training for embassy staff on Canada’s diverse education offerings and study pathways.

An interesting statistic: 75% of Canada’s workforce growth now comes from immigration, notes the panel, which may rise to 100% by the end of the decade; this highlights the urgent need for skilled talent that sets Canada aside from some of its competitors.

A formal response from the government will be “forthcoming”, said Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

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