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CBIE calls on government to “mobilise critical mass” of Canadians

In a submission to the House of Commons Finance Committee, the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) has called for the government to rethink its approach to international education and “mobilise a critical mass of our next generation”.

Currently only 3% of Canadian students partake in study abroad programmes as part of their studies

CBIE has called for a push to increase the number of outbound Canadians up to 15% of total students

The organisation says that currently 3% of total Canadian students are choosing to study abroad and it is “proving to be the Achilles’ heel in Canada’s aspirations for greater global engagement and competitiveness”.

CBIE has called for a push to increase the number of outbound Canadians up to 15% of total students.

In order to support outbound mobility, CBIE says the government should allocate a minimum of 10,000 scholarships worth CAN$1,000 to these students by 2015.

“By providing students access to more aid, it would make study abroad a more feasible option”

CBIE, which has named the outbound mobility task the “Global Engagement Challenge”, is also requesting that the government mark Canada’s 150th Anniversary by allocating an additional 15,000 awards in 2017.

Ultimately, CBIE says 50,000 study abroad funding packages should be awarded by 2022, a target set by the government’s own Advisory Panel.

Speaking to The PIE News, Jennifer Humphries, CBIE’s Vice-President, Membership, Public Policy and Communications said ‘t would be “encouraging” for the federal government to fund the awards. Currently the government offers very specific scholarships in specific fields, such as the Vanier Canada Scholarships ($50,000 over three years) for doctoral degree students.

But Humphries said “there aren’t many opportunities for students to apply for aid that’s not linked to a specific scholarship programme”.

Humphries explained that while several universities have study abroad scholarships for Canadians such as York, Seneca, University of British Columbia and Université Laval, these scholarships offer anywhere from $500-$1000 to ‘top up’ other sources of financial aid for students.

“By providing students access to more aid, it would make study abroad a more feasible option,” said Humphries.

CBIE  also argues that Canada’s future economic well-being is at stake if the country does not produce globally minded leaders and the lack of outbound students has created a “critical international skills deficit.”

The organisation is engaging businesses and business associations in discussions about building the international competency of Canadian students who will be their future employees. This issue is beginning to resonate with corporate leaders.

Ultimately, CBIE says 50,000 CAN$1,000 study abroad funding packages should be awarded by 2022

Canadian government announced its International Education Strategy and set the ambitious target of doubling the number of international students in the country to 450,000 by 2022.

In its submission, CBIE rebuts that “inbound mobility of international students is only one pillar of a comprehensive international education approach.”

It also cites competing countries who are already en route to achieving targets set by their own outbound mobility programmes including the New Colombo programme in Australia, Science without Borders in Brazil, the 100,000 Strong Initiative in the USA and the European Union’s Erasmus Mundus plan.

Supporting the call to arms in post on OpenCanada.org, Karen McBride, president and CEO of CBIE wrote: “International education with all its benefits – leadership development, cross-cultural communication skills, second- and third-language proficiency – is a two-way street, and our students need to experience these gains.”

“This will take concerted effort—from the federal and provincial governments, from secondary and post-secondary institutions across the country, from the corporate sector, from students and from the international education sector as a whole. But it is achievable—and imperative,” she urged.

The Canadian government would invite organisations to appear in October and November so they have a chance to provide input towards the development of the federal budget which is unveiled around February and March 2015.

CBIE is Canada’s leading international education organisation and its 150 member institutions include K-12 school districts, universities, colleges, institutes and language schools.

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