When it comes to foreign students, Canada earns ‘F’ for recruitment

Report recommends the creation of a new Crown corporation called Education Canada


As the battle intensifies to woo foreign students to Western universities, a new report says Canada is a roadblock to its own success.

One of the reasons Canada—with 120,000 international students—trails countries such as England, with 427,000, and Australia, with almost 250,000 (all numbers from a 2011 UNESCO report), is the lack of a unified brand to promote itself, according to the report released Tuesday by the Council of Chief Executives and the Canadian International Council. That’s because the provinces have sole jurisdiction over education; Canada is the only developed country without a national education ministry.

“This puts us at a disadvantage, in that everyone chooses to go their own way,” says Bernard Simon, author of the report and a former Financial Times correspondent in Canada. “People know about Canada. They don’t know about Nova Scotia, they don’t know about the University of Manitoba.”

Just ask Cape Breton University. Like other Canadian schools struggling with declining enrolment, its foreign recruiting has resulted in a university population where 30 per cent of more than 2,500 students come from outside Canada. But when recruiters go abroad, they can only look upon the U.K. and Australian delegations with envy.

“They have a federal policy, they have a federal strategy, they are a one-stop approach,” says Keith Brown, vice-president of CBU’s external department.

“We have to make it clear to people that when we talk about the educational side of things, we cannot talk about the visa or the immigration implications. Only the government of Canada can talk about that.”

In a 2011 UNESCO ranking of international students per country, Canada came in eighth. Its ability to attract students from China, the biggest source of foreign students, is dismal, at best, with only 3.8 per cent.

“Education Canada would ‘act more nimbly than the groups that currently coordinate international education marketing and strategy,’ the report says.

Education Canada would capitalize on the brand awareness that Canada already has, says Simon. “It would go out there and promote Canada, because the individual universities aren’t going to do that and the provinces aren’t going to do that.”

The report also says the International Education Strategy, unveiled by the federal government just five months ago, already needs an overhaul. It seeks to double the number of foreign researchers and students to more than 450,000 by 2022.

Experts agree the strategy is too focused on boosting the number of foreign students in Canada without encouraging Canadian students to study abroad. The report recommends Canada replace its “largely ineffective” “Imagine Education in Canada” campaign with one that would feature opportunities for Canadian students to study in other countries.

“It’s not that Canadian students haven’t gone abroad, but what it appears to need is a more concerted, more organized program to make that happen in larger numbers,” says Simon.

Obama’s 100,000 Strong Initiative in 2009 sought to radically increase the number of American students studying in China. A second 100,000 Strong program for Latin America and the Caribbean was launched in 2011.

“Canada seems to think of education as a really crude export industry, and we look at it in a really mercantilist fashion, where we want more people to come in and we don’t really care if people go out or not,” says Alex Usher, president of Higher Education Strategy Associates, based in Toronto.

Jennifer Jeffs, president of the Canadian International Council, says international education should be part of Canada’s foreign policy strategy. As a tool of “soft diplomacy,” encouraging students to go abroad, where they form meaningful relationships, would improve foreign relations and Canada’s reputation.

While Canada may not have the highest standard of education and research or the most competitive fees, it still has an unmatched reputation as a tolerant, multicultural and safe society, which it should capitalize on.

“The overriding concern is that Canada is not getting as much as it deserves from international education,” says Simon. “All the building blocks are there to make Canada a real powerhouse in international education, and yet, it hasn’t happened.”

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When it comes to foreign students, Canada earns ‘F’ for recruitment

  1. Canada gets an F in almost everything anymore….yet we could lead the world in so many things if we tried.

    But between factories and farmers and the fifties thinking we have…..

    Anyway…in 1867 there was little education to be had by the masses….elementary school at best.

    So announce that’s what the provinces are in charge of….what existed in 1867….but universities and above are run by the feds. And then dig in to turn the whole thing on it’s head and move forward.

    We have no name. We only have ONE university in the world’s top 20….and it’s only just hanging in there.

    We only have 3 in the top 100!

    Surely we can do better than this.

  2. Most Canadians would not support increases foreign student recruitment, especially when their own kids are left on wait lists? Most University’s are already full of many foreign students who are not well rounded – Asian tends to lean only towards scores and many students who do come from overseas can not cope in the West with poor English and social skills. Many fail to adapt to Canadian school structure. Many schools have decided to re-evaluate foreign entry to make sure well rounded students strong in all areas are provided some opportunity but not at the expense of local students whose parents pay taxes here in Canada and enter the workforce here in Canada.

    • You got a source for any of this? ANY of it??

      • This is funny because no one demanded your sources. EmilyOne, you are the best troll on the internet.

        • a] You have no clue what a troll is, so you just sound silly.

          b] I have always sourced my posts.

          c] Don’t interrupt.

          • LOL, look at all of those sources in your original post!! That link that leads to the one in the top 20 is definitely there. 3 in 100? That is really well sourced.

            I appreciate your commitment to the bit by making fun of me though, you are nothing if not thorough.

          • This is great!

            I have to go now, but I just want to leave you knowing that I really truly get what you are trying to do with this parody account. Too often people with broad sweeping polarizing comments destroy boards like this, but your clearly ridiculous comments really help remind us not to take things too seriously.

            I really appreaciate you!

          • Did you notice that Japan has 1 spot in the top 20..just like Canada; Switzerland has 1 spot; the UK has 3 and the US has the remaining 14 spots. The US also has 10 times the population of Canada. Not to mention the US has one of the WORST public education systems in the world. Not to mention that a great number of American youth can never hope to afford to attend ANY of those universities in the top 20. Not only are the US failing at educating their youth but their elite schools are priced too high for the average young person to be able to afford to attend one should they have the required grades to do so. Of course those ivy league schools take in rich foreign students. Who else can afford to attend?

        • In other words you’re embarrassed that you goofed.

  3. One of the silliest rules in Nova Scotia is with regards to healthcare. Students who wish to go home on the summer break are disqualified from healthcare eligibility if they are out of the province for more than 30 days, in a summer break that is approximately120 days. They are also forbidden to work outside the university community while having student status.

    • Is it even standard to provide provincial healthcare coverage for people here on student visas? I’d always assumed they had to buy private travel health insurance just like any tourist would.

  4. …well maybe if your greedy-arsed Tutiion Fee’s weren’t thru the roof, your enrollment wouldn’t be declining. Our own Canadian kids can’t even afford to go to their own Canadian Universities.
    But you do notice now, how our Canadian Education system has been “toileting”, ever since Harpocrisy got in ?

    • http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/calgary/receives+record+million+donation+medical+research/9947437/story.html

      As you can see here, the province of Alberta matches donations made to its post-secondary institutions…why???…because the provincial government is in charge of the funding.

      I am not sure about “greedy-arsed tuition fees” but post-secondary education is funded by provinces. That is why it is cheaper to go to university in Quebec. That is why the university students in Quebec went on strike to protest tuition-fee hikes under the last provincial-Liberal government. The feds do not raise tuition fees for universities……universities themselves do in response to reconciling budgets. Have you every checked how much a university president in Canada is making? There is a great article here on Macleans…it is is as much as 4 professors…much more than Harper.

    • Considering transfers to provinces have done nothing but go up since harper got in, every single year, even for ontario despite what wynne says, it is difficult to see how problems with our education system could be his fault.

  5. I agree with much of this. Yes, the feds need to do more for universities….and we need national standards.

    We also need a ‘student package’ which gives a student everything s/he needs in the way of paperwork….and places to live and learn while here. Make them feel welcome and valuable.

    ‘Education Canada’ could easily advertise all over the world….and the foreign student could decide on a rural or city setting here.

    Most of all….better profs, a higher standard and advertising. THAT’S what we need.

  6. What is missing in Canada is a two-pronged coordinated approach to international studies:

    a) Coordinated recruitment of foreign students to come to Canadian universities led by a federal-provincial team recruiting system highlighting the benefits of a Canadian education without necessarily pinpointing which college or university should be chosen, and

    b) A coordinated effort to promote studying abroad for Canadian students who can learn about other countries and then bring their knowledge home to help Canada compete in the global marketplace.

    The key is to understand we are in a global competition with other countries to recruit the youngest and brightest minds in the world. Our livelihood and the future of our economic success is at stake.

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