Gabriela Facchini, manager of international business developments and partnerships at Sheridan College in Ontario, has been going to Mexico for education fairs to recruit international students for language and postsecondary study for more than 20 years.
“The whole focus in Mexico has turned away from the US and toward Canada”
Every year, interest was about the same – until this year, she reported. “The whole focus [in Mexico] has turned away from the US and toward Canada,” Facchini told The PIE News at Languages Canada’s annual meeting in Quebec City last week
“Canada has always been popular, but we have always had to compete with the United States; that is now changing due to the ‘Trump effect’.”
Each year, Facchini hands out around 400 brochures at education fairs to recruit international students to study language in Canada. This year she sent an extra 400, thinking she might need more recruitment literature than usual.
When she arrived at a recent fair in Canada in late February, she was told that preregistration was up 50%. Still, at the events, she ran out of all of her materials, including all of her business cards. “My experience was not unique,” she said.
Mexican interest in language and postsecondary study in Canada is growing, which Canadian institutions attribute in part to strained relations between Mexico and the US since Trump gained power.
Recent regulatory changes in Canada have also made it more attractive for Mexicans to study in Canada as well. Canada lifted the visa requirement for Mexicans on December 1, 2016.
“Canada and Mexico have a rich and diverse relationship. I am confident that the lifting of the visa requirement will facilitate people-to-people ties, opportunities for youth mobility, education and prosperity and that it will enhance engagement between our two countries,” Stéphane Dion, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs said in a statement in December.
Now that no visa is required for Mexican students to attend language programmes of six months or less, many language educators in Canada expect to see a rise in applicants for language student programmes.
“I am confident that the lifting of the visa requirement will facilitate people-to-people ties”
And the effect will likely be boosted by the favourable exchange rate, which means it is not cheaper for Mexican students to study in Canada than the US.
“Our exchange rate is good now — it is good value to study in Canada,” said Anthony Stille, director of the English School of Canada in Toronto. He also said that around the world at education fairs he attends, “students and families mention Trump a lot— the Trump effect definitely exists.”
Effie Dracopoulous, associate director of language and international communication at the McGill University School of Continuing Studies in Montreal, was at an international study abroad fair in Monterey, Puebla, and in Mexico City in late February.
“Of all the students we spoke to, no one is interested in going to the States anymore,” she said. “Canada is an even better destination than it was before.”
Gonzalo Peralta, executive director of Languages Canada, agreed. “It’s not just individuals, but it is also Mexican institutions that are turning to us,” he said.
Michael Bailey, senior trade commissioner at the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City, said that the government expects to see an increase in bilateral government-to-government programmes, scholarship programmes and exchange opportunities in the next six to 12 months.
He advised Language Canada members to go beyond Mexico City to recruit language students, citing Mexico as a “complex and diverse market”, and mentioned large regional markets for opportunities for recruitment.