Speaking to the Chronicle of Higher Education during the event, Pamela Barrett, North American director of client services for i-graduate said: “People have been keeping an eye for years on what Australia is doing, but now it’s Canada.” She continued, “There’s a real sense Canada is getting its act together.”
Gonzalo Peralta, executive director of Languages Canada, said: “We have a small window of opportunity right now. We have a certain momentum going, so it is time to capitalise on that.”
The comments come after a decade of above-average growth in international student numbers in Canada, which owes much to its predominantly English speaking population, high quality education, and immigration policies that compared favourably with those of its neighbour the US.
As the UK, US and Australia continue to struggle with visa-related recruitment issues, Canada has begun to snap up market share, seeing an 11% jump this autumn in undergraduate recruitment according to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), and increased overseas interest in its language, vocational and high schools.
However, officials at the CBIE conference warned, Canada still has some lingering issues to address if it is to fulfil its potential. These include the relatively poor level of credit transfers available between international and Canadian institutions, the lack of a nationwide quality assurance mechanism, and student-visa fraud – something officials this week promised to improve.
Efforts to maintain the momentum continue regardless. Last month, the Canadian government established a panel of educators and business leaders to develop a strategy on integrating international education into economic and trade policy;
“CBIE is working to ensure that the resulting strategy is comprehensive, takes a whole-of-sector approach”
while in early November the government announced it will expand the number of international students granted permanent resident status next year. A major campaign to attract international students was also launched in British Columbia in September, following one in Ottawa in 2010.
Jennifer Humphries, Vice-President, Membership, Public Policy and Communications told the PIE, “It is the first time Canada has seen such a convergence of momentum, and CBIE is working to ensure that the resulting strategy is comprehensive, takes a whole-of-sector approach, and underscores the two-way nature of our field.”