The letter of intent, signed at the French Embassy in Ottawa on May 16, will encourage students enrolled in French universities to teach in francophone Canada. It will make up for a lack of sufficient French language teachers in Canada, while fulfilling a need for more professional opportunities for students.
“We sincerely believe that this memorandum can contribute to the development of teaching in French in Canada”
The deal aims to facilitate collaboration between the 34 member universities of the Conférence des présidents d’université in France, the Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne and Universities Canada.
Through the agreement, students and graduates of French universities will be encouraged to complete supplemental training at a Canadian institution, before taking up teaching positions in schools that offer French immersion courses or as French language teachers in primary or secondary schools.
Though the purpose of the agreement is primarily to address a teacher shortage in Canada, it will also encourage Canadian students to gain work experience in France.
Concerns about the supply and quality of francophone teachers have proliferated in Canada in recent years, as interest in French immersion has increased sharply. Enrolment climbed 41% in the decade leading up to 2014/15, according to Statistics Canada.
“We sincerely believe that this memorandum can contribute to the development of teaching in French and the French language in Canada by fostering student mobility between our two countries,” commented Dominic Giroux, vice-chair of the Universities Canada board of directors and president of Laurentian University.
The agreement will also have a wider impact, added Allister Surette, co-chairman of the ACUFC and president of Nova Scotia’s Université Sainte-Anne.
“The partnerships and agreements between French and Canadian universities which will emerge from this letter of intent are sure to be beneficial not only for our educational establishments but also for the communities where we live and work.”
The letter of intent builds on a long history of Franco-Canadian mobility, including a longstanding youth mobility agreement to facilitate the movement of 18-35 year olds between the two countries.
A common language means France is a popular study destination for Canadian students, attracting 108,217 for-credit students in 2015. France was the third-largest source of international students for Canada in the same year, sending 20,136 students to study there.