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Saskatchewan launches international education strategy

Saskatchewan has unveiled a new international education strategy that aims to increase the number of post-secondary level international students coming into the Canadian province by 75% by 2020, helping to plug a labour market gap and build international trade relationships.

Saskatchewan and Canadian flags. Photo: Makaristos.

"The new international strategy recognises the necessity to engage globally on the human level"

The three-tiered Post-Secondary International Education Strategy also includes plans to increase outgoing student numbers by 50% and foster more global research collaborations.

Advanced Education Minister Kevin Doherty said the province will need 60,000 workers by 2020 to fill retirements and new opportunities.

“For the students that return to their home countries, they will become excellent ambassadors of our province”

In order to attract an annual 6,200 foreign students, the provincial government will develop a marketing strategy to promote Saskatchewan as a study destination and take part in regular missions with the post-secondary education sector.

It will also clarify the provincial and federal immigration pathways for international students to live and work in Saskatchewan, and support the expansion of post-secondary co-op and career development opportunities for both domestic and international students.

Doherty also emphasised how the strategy would help strengthen ties with other countries.

“This will help to build relationships with our trading partners, to increase investments and partnerships to keep our provincial economy strong,” he commented. “For the students that return to their home countries, they will become excellent ambassadors of our province.”

Meanwhile, a new International Future Scholarship will help to boost outgoing numbers. In its first year the annual scholarship will send up to 20 students abroad for business-focussed studies in priority markets.

“The synergies existing between these three goals are obvious, but knitting them together in a coherent and successful whole will be a challenge”

The province will also re-establish an International Education Council – originally formed in 2010 and since dissolved – to facilitate collaboration between government, post-secondary educational institutions and industry.

David Parkinson, Director of the University of Saskatchewan’s Language Centre, said the strategy offers “lofty and exciting goals”, but there are some hurdles to overcome.

“The synergies existing between these three goals are obvious, but knitting them together in a coherent and successful whole will be a challenge,” he told The PIE News.

“Traditionally we have tended to look inwardly even though we are an export economy… our major exports are commodities which are often loaded on a train and shipped to a distant port, thus distancing us from the world at large,” he commented, but added: “The new international strategy recognises the necessity to engage globally on the human level.”

He also noted that Saskatchewan’s buoyant economy, relatively small education sector which will allow for effective collaboration and the chance to build from the ground up using best practices are all “distinctive advantages” in implementing the strategy.

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