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Canada: federal budget allocates millions to international education

A major investment in international education was included in the Canadian federal budget 2019, with a focus on supporting the new International Education Strategy and outbound mobility.

The sector welcomed the federal government investment and recognition. Photo: Pixabay

Both Universities Canada and CICan welcomed the investment in outward mobility and promotion

The government proposed to invest CA$147m and $8m per year after that. The funding will be used to support work and study opportunities abroad, with the development of an outbound student mobility program, and to promote Canadian education abroad with a focus on its quality.

“In an increasingly global economy and labour market, Canadian youth need to develop a range of skills. These include adaptability, fluency in more than one or two languages and inter-cultural skills—skills that are best fostered through international experiences, such as travelling, studying and working overseas,” the budget text read.

“This will give more students the international study sought by Canadian employers”

This is welcome news for the sector, whose associations had advocated for more federal funding for outward student mobility in their submissions to the budget consultation last year.

“The government’s recognition and support of these fundamentals of international education, the incoming student and the outgoing student, Canada’s labour market development and the personal growth and learning of its students, has been long-awaited and is welcomed by the sector,” BCCIE executive director Randall Martin told The PIE.

Larissa Bezo, president and CEO of CBIE, said she was particularly pleased by the investment in outward mobility. The association last year advocated for an initial investment of $10m over 5 years to support outward mobility.

“Supporting international learning experiences is one of the best ways to reinforce the values of openness and inclusion that are the hallmark of Canada’s success as a diverse society,” she said.

“Moreover, there is strong evidence that educational mobility produces the greatest benefits among students from less advantaged backgrounds.”

Bezo added that a pilot project for post-secondary students is a “welcome start”, but CBIE believes that international opportunities must be available for K-12 and beyond.

Both Universities Canada and CICan welcomed the investment in outward mobility and promotion of opportunities.

“The investment…will give more students – including those from marginalised backgrounds – the international study and work opportunities so highly sought by Canadian employers,” a Universities Canada spokesperson told The PIE, adding that the promotion of Canada as a leading study destination is “great news” for the country’s institutions and communities.

“International students enhance our classrooms and communities with their diverse experiences and perspectives,” they said.

Denise Amyot, CEO and president at CICan, also highlighted that the investment will help the association’s members diversify their recruitment efforts in new and emerging markets, an effort the industry has become increasingly vocal about.

Languages Canada’s executive director Gonzalo Peralta welcomed the news and its significance in terms of recognition and support for the sector.

“The ongoing $8m per year is a recognition that the sector is here to stay”

“The $147m over five years to support promotion and outbound student mobility demonstrates that the government is listening to the sector in terms of strategic direction,” he told The PIE.

“The ongoing $8m per year afterwards is an initial commitment to long term investment and a recognition that the sector is here to stay.”

However, he pointed out how the investment will be spent, and how it will recognise the potential contribution of all stakeholders is still unclear. He underlined the necessity for the language training sector to play a key role in achieving the objectives of the International Education Strategy.

“Some things are best done by the federal government. Others by the provinces. Yet other by agencies or representative bodies who understand the sector,” he said.

Hinting at the association’s efforts to retrieve access to work for language students, Peralta pointed out that some improvements don’t require a financial investment from the federal government.

“A responsible access to work program for international language students is a policy decision that could have a substantial impact on pathway programs, immigration objectives, labour shortages, and export revenues,” he added.

“Languages Canada would also like to see the government focus on this low hanging fruit that will cost Canadians nothing and contribute much”.

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