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Canada unveils International Education Strategy

The Canadian government has announced its International Education Strategy (IES) that will focus on key markets in order to double foreign student numbers, boost job growth and inject billions of dollars into the economy by 2022.

Extract from the new strategy document

The rise in international students will create 86,500 net new jobs and contribute CAN$10 billion to the economy by 2022

International Trade Minister Ed Fast announced the blueprint to attract 450,000 foreign students by committing CAN $5 million per year to branding and marketing Canada as a an education destination in identified priority markets: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Vietnam and the MENA region (including Turkey).

Jobs creation and economic growth are centre to the policy which claims the rise in international students will create 86,500 net new jobs and contribute CAN$10 billion to the economy by 2022.

Data for 2012 shows that 265,400 international students contribute some CAN$8.4 billion to the national economy and supported 86,500 jobs.

“This strategy will help us advance Canada’s commercial interests in priority markets around the world”

Fast said that international education is a “key driver of jobs and prosperity in every region of Canada” and that the plan will help ensure that “Canada stays ahead of the curve in a global environment that is fiercely competitive”.

“This strategy will help us advance Canada’s commercial interests in priority markets around the world and ensure that we maximise the people-to-people ties that help Canadian workers, businesses and world-class educational institutions achieve real success in the largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing economies in the world,” he said.

As a key element to the country’s new Global Markets Action Plan, the IES follows recommendations set out in 2012’s advisory panel report.

Amit Chakma, President and Vice-Chancellor of Western University and Chair of the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy, said the policy supports the “vast majority” of the council’s recommendations.

The plan outlines refreshed and customised marketing strategies for the priority markets while still maintaing the “advantage” the country holds in traditional source markets including France, the UK, the US, Germany, South Korea and Japan.

After last year’s foreign service officers strike and criticisms of long visa waiting times, the government has also said it is committed to providing funding necessary to maintain reasonable processing timelines for temporary-resident visas, particularly from priority markets.

The government is providing funding to maintain reasonable processing timelines for temporary-resident visas

Addressing the country’s skills gap, the IES said the upcoming regulatory changes to the International Student Programme  will make it easier “for those international students attending designated educational institutions to work during their studies”.

Karen McBride, Chair of the Canadian Consortium for International Education, applauded the strategy’s intentions .

“We are pleased the Canadian government understands the economic and societal contributions of international education to many priority areas, including trade, research, labour market development, as well as strengthening Canada’s relationships with its partner countries around the world,” she said.

An additional CAN$13 million will be invested over two years to the Mitacs Globalink Program which promotes student and researcher exchange between Canada and China, Brazil, India, Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam.

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