Canada: concern about recruitment of international students

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Nov 14 14:55:58 UTC 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006

International Educators in Canada Discuss Responses to Increasing
Competition for Students


Quebec City

An increasing concern among Canadian educators about their country's
slippage as a destination of choice for international students was evident
in discussions here over the weekend as the 40th-anniversary conference of
the Canadian Bureau for International Education got under way. As a place
to study, Canada has dropped from being in the top five preferred
countries to ninth place, according to several people among the record
number of delegates attending the conference. Over all, the number of
international students in Canada has increased slightly, but educators
worry that trend could change if the country continues to slip as a
preferred destination. "There's a big concern, not only because of
economic impact, but also because of diversity on our campuses," said
Vianne Timmons, a member of the bureau's Board of Directors and vice
president for academic development at the University of Prince Edward
Island. "Other countries are watching to see what Canada is doing," said
Ms. Timmons, who led a round table of senior administrators and faculty
members at the conference, which continues through Wednesday.

Canada's main competition for international students used to come from
Australia, Britain, and the United States, but dozens of other countries
are recruiting now, a number of which used to send large numbers of
students abroad. "Asia is getting more mature now," said Colin Dodds, who
is chair of the bureau's board and president of Saint Mary's University,
in Nova Scotia.  "For example, China is recruiting students in Canada," he
said. "So we recognize that unless we change our recruitment strategy, our
numbers will drop for students from China." Several administrators raised
the idea of a national accreditation body so international students would
have a yardstick for distinguishing legitimate colleges from some private
career operations giving dubious credentials. Last month the government of
British Columbia closed down one such institution, Kingston College, for
awarding degrees without authorization to do so. Some administrators fear
that, amid publicity over that closing, traditional colleges could find it
difficult to attract students from abroad.

"We need some sort of pan-Canadian system, whether it's called quality
assurance or accreditation," said Greg F. Lee, president of Capilano
College. His institution, which is located near Vancouver, is seeking
American accreditation, he said. "That's the only alternative open to us
as a degree-granting college in Canada. And we think that will help us
internationally." Recruiting is not the only concern. Officials noted that
only 1 percent of Canadian students go abroad to study, and there are
concerns that Canada is way behind Australia, for example, when it comes
to the "trade," or commercial, side of international education. According
to recent statistics from the Australian government, international
higher-education activity has overtaken transportation to become that
country's third-largest moneymaker, surging by $1.5-billion in the past
year alone to more than $7.5-billion (The Chronicle, October 27).

"There are a whole host of issues facing us," said Jim W. Fox, the
bureau's president. "We're falling short, so to move forward could be a
challenge. We need to draw all the interests together."


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