The Canadian government appointed the panel to advise on a new international education strategy for Canada which aims to boost in and out-bound mobility. One proposal is to establish a student mobility programme for Canadian students with Brazil and China among the key target markets.
“In order to fully realise the multifaceted aspirational goals of internationalisation, the government of Canada should consider co-funding, with academic institutions and/or provincial/territorial governments, a major student mobility programme,” states the panel’s report. It also drew attention to the importance of faculty exchanges and research partnerships with foreign institutions.
“International education must be seen as a two-way street”
Renato Leonardi, a Brazilian embassy second secretary, said that Brazil is encouraged not only that the panel is looking for Canadian institutions to receive more foreign students, but also for more Canadian researchers to study and work abroad.
“In our understanding, international education must be seen as a two-way street,” he told Embassy magazine.
Zhang Lanchun, a minister-counsellor for education affairs at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, commented that the recommendations were “constructive” and “positive”.
This year Canadian and Chinese officials agreed to expand two-way academic mobility, aspiring to reach a combined goal of 100,000 students studying in each other’s countries within five years. However, according to Zhang, the current flow is “very unbalanced”.
More than 60,000 Chinese students study in Canada but only 2,000 Canadians go to China
More than 60,000 Chinese students study in Canada but only 2,000 Canadians go to China, he said.
This reflects a wider trend: only 2.2% of all full-time university students in Canada took a for-credit study abroad programme in 2006, up from 1% in 2000, according to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.
Earlier this year, 25 university presidents called for more Canadians to study abroad in order to increase innovation and global connections in the country.
“If I had a choice, I’d take the number of students that have a significant international exposure and multiply it by 10 or 20,” said Dr. Sean Riley, president of St Francis Xavier University. “I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think we actually have a global mindset.”