The three key objectives of the new strategy encompass encouraging Canadians to gain new skills abroad in less traditional destinations, diversifying source countries of inbound students as well as their destinations in Canada, and measures to support the sector to keep attracting international students.
“Competitor countries in this sector recognise the long-term benefits of international education”
“In 2018, international students in Canada contributed an estimated $21.6 billion to Canada’s GDP, and supported almost 170,000 jobs for Canada’s middle class. This is a significant economic contribution—and one that is felt right across the country,” Minister of International Trade Diversification James Carr said in a statement.
“Competitor countries in this sector recognise the long-term benefits of international education. They have upped their game, and to remain competitive, we upped our game too.”
Announced August 22, the new 2019-2024 strategy will be led by the Trade Commissioner Service of Global Affairs Canada, with other elements managed by Employment and Social Development Canada and IRCC.
Funding for the implementation of the strategy was allocated in 2019’s federal budget.
Unlike its predecessor, this strategy doesn’t set a numerical target for inbound mobility – but there is a target for the number of Canadians it wants to support to study or work abroad.
A major component of the strategy will be a pilot outbound mobility program with the objective of supporting up to 11,000 college and university undergraduates to study or work abroad and a focus on underrepresented students.
The pilot, overseen by Employment and Social Development Canada and jointly administered by CICan and Universities Canada, has been allocated $95m over give years and will provide financial assistance ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 a year.
The priority on facilitating opportunities outside of the traditional destinations (US, UK, France, and Australia) in favour of less traditional destinations such as Asia and Latin America and widening access to all students.
Half of the funds in the pilot will support access for underrepresented students, for example low-income, indigenous, and students with disabilities, the strategy explained.
“Study abroad changes lives. The new Outbound Student Mobility Pilot is significant news for young Canadians, and for Canada,” Universities Canada president Paul Davidson said.
“Canada’s universities look forward to working with our partners in government and the higher education sector to enable more students, from all backgrounds, to participate in global mobility experiences.”
The pilot will undergo evaluation between 2022-2024.
Global Affairs Canada will oversee initiatives aimed at attracting more international students and diversify intake and destinations.
These include a digital marketing strategy (for which approximately $24.1 million over five years and $5.4 million ongoing were earmarked), additional scholarships for international students to study in Canada ($5m million over five years) and strengthened support to the sector by the Trade Commissioner Service.
“Study abroad changes lives. The new pilot is significant news for young Canadians, and for Canada”
Diversification as a key to ensuring sector sustainability has been a much discussed topic over the past year, and was highlighted in the strategy – 50% of international students in 2018 came from only two countries, and students are “concentrated” in large cities, the strategy read.
On IRCC’s task list is a modernisation of immigration processes and an expansion of the Student Direct Stream to more countries beyond the current five.
Promotion of outbound student mobility will also be part of IRCC’s initiatives, as the department has been tasked with boosting promotion of outbound mobility opportunities through the International Experience Canada among young Canadians.