During our consultation and engagement process, we, the advisory panel, engaged with the Canadian community of experts and practitioners engaged in international education to chart the course to work together in a coherent and cohesive fashion. We have acknowledged good will and support from all partners and stakeholders. In our view, this engagement should be ongoing. We must also anticipate future trends, manage risks and conduct ourselves in a way that reflects our values.
The panel sees a need for all contributions to be acknowledged and for existing partnerships to be renewed to avoid the duplication of efforts. In our original mandate, we were asked to set out the contributions of all partners. We have thus looked to the future to scope out potential roles. The best results will come from leveraging our collective strengths to maximize the benefits to Canada’s long-term prosperity.
The Government of Canada has a central role to play in coordinating the overall strategy. For the reasons mentioned in this report, we envision DFAIT taking the lead in establishing and supporting the Council on International Education and Research, which will establish the policies and directions for the implementation of the strategy, including periodic review of priority markets in consultation with the provinces/territories, as well as with CIC.
Several tasks would fall under the purview of DFAIT, including co-managing the evolution of the Imagine Education au/in Canada brand with CMEC; coordinating the strategy and Canada’s presence at marketing initiatives via the network of embassies and offices abroad; as well as providing training for trade and visa officers, and recruiters.
Further, there are several responsibilities that the panel potentially sees DFAIT, partnering with other organizations, delivering. These include managing the content, executing and hosting the e-communication platform; gathering and disseminating timely market intelligence; and coordinating the Canada presence at key education events and fairs.
We acknowledge the critical role of CIC in the management of the study permit system, with a keen eye to fraud prevention. However, there are opportunities to improve data mining, as information is essential for better market intelligence and forecasting of trends. Specifically, granular data that is non-aggregated by subsector and program would be particularly useful. CIC plays a pivotal role in managing the transition from international student to permanent resident via programs such as the Canadian Experience Class. CIC also provides important opportunities for skilled and qualified international students to gain relevant Canadian work experience during their studies, through initiatives such as the off-Campus Work Permit Program—these programs can be very attractive to international students. Lastly, the panel recognizes the policy innovation that CIC has led by embracing new approaches and establishing pilots, such as the Student Partners Program in partnership with ACCC.
We anticipate a continuing role for the granting councils, which foster research and innovation. We would like to see an alignment of funding allocations with identified priority markets. All funding allocations for international students should be gathered and re-branded under a “Canada” umbrella for greater impact and recognition of Canada as the place to study and conduct world-class research.
The panel also sees a need for HRSDC to be informed as to the direction of the strategy, to ensure information related to identifying labour market needs is part of future planning.
The panel views provincial/territorial governments and CMEC working in close coordination with the Government of Canada to deliver the strategy as partners. Provinces/territories are best positioned to identify their strengths, priorities and capacity for growth. More importantly, they have the jurisdiction to do so. The provinces/territories will continue to co-manage the Imagine Education au/in Canada brand with DFAIT.
There was agreement from consulted stakeholders that maintaining quality was paramount. Gathering information related to quality-assurance systems clearly falls within CMEC’s purview. CMEC should continue its efforts to clearly communicate the robustness of these mechanisms. Relatedly, the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials plays a key role in gathering and maintaining a database of programs.
As appropriate, the provinces/territories will have the option to allocate funds to scholarships to leverage the federal investment to attract international students. Provinces/territories may want to consider covering health-care insurance costs for international students, as international students we met with raised this issue as a complicating factor while studying in Canada.
Lastly, provinces and territories also manage their own provincial nominee programs to nominate immigrants who wish to settle within them.
We took note of the current work of the Canadian Consortium on International Education Marketing, specifically with respect to its focus on developing education pathways. We believe associations are ideally positioned to play a key role in gathering and sharing best practices related to internationalization for practitioners.
Languages Canada: Supporting research on international students in Canada
Languages Canada, representing the Canadian language training sector, is undertaking an initiative to support research into factors affecting academic performance of international students. The landscape of international education is changing. As the sector grows and evolves it has an increasing impact on Canadian education systems. While we know there are factors that affect academic performance and success (e.g. linguistic proficiency), the necessary research to pinpoint these factors and their thresholds does not exist. Languages Canada is collaborating with the Illuminate Consulting Group (ICG) to establish a benchmarking mechanism that will provide the necessary data and analysis needed to understand how international students can be supported to achieve the high-quality academic results for which Canada is renowned. A cross-national, cross-institutional benchmark model of international students’ success and performance (PRISM) was launched by the ICG at the 2012 NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo, North America’s largest educational event. Languages Canada presented on the role of second language in the Canadian educational context and will be involved with PRISM as it unfolds and provides a solid basis for continuous quality improvement.
Building on the strength of the data gathered, best practices related to student support services could be shared via practitioner workshops (also a core mandate of associations). A supporting role (peer-to-peer mentoring) could be crafted to help manage risks.
Associations can also combine their membership to reduce the number of individual delegations going on promotional missions to key markets. The associations could also identify international activities carried out by the Canadian education sector that may not be known to other stakeholders including governments.
Education and Training/Formation Atlantic: Fostering collaboration among education providers in Atlantic Canada
The members of Education and Training/Formation Atlantic (ET/FA), a non-profit association of Atlantic Canada-based organizations and provincial and federal government representatives, recently created an asset map of the education and training sector’s exportable expertise. The provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and in Nova Scotia, EduNova, partnered with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to fund the project. The purpose of the asset map is to foster collaboration and partnerships among ET/FA members and to catalogue the international activities and contacts of public and private education and training providers in Atlantic Canada.
ET/FA members identified 98 education and training providers in Atlantic Canada and, of these, 89 organizations agreed to participate in the mapping project. The asset map project is in its pilot year, with additional information still to be added. The initial launch of the asset map lists 419 international linkages that exist with 700 partners in 133 countries and 126 sectors/academic fields. International linkages are grouped by country and type; therefore, there are in fact many more than 419 linkages. In addition, the map contains 347 international projects that took place in 133 countries, in 150 sectors/academic fields and involving 291 partners (national and international).
Polytechnics Canada: Representing the strengths of members across Canada
Polytechnics Canada members teach and train more than 15,000 international students and carry the Edu-Canada brand. Representing Canadian research-intensive colleges and institutes that also offer undergraduate degrees, the current nine members of Polytechnics Canada provide high-quality education and training, pathways to employment as well as further study for all their learners.
Polytechnics Canada represents publicly funded colleges and institutes of technology located in key economic regions of Canada. International demand is increasing for Bachelor’s degrees and one-year graduate certificates at polytechnics—both of which have a strong component of practicum and work placements built into the learning. Polytechnics Canada speaks for its members to ensure they are well represented in Canada’s international education promotion efforts.
The panel recognizes that institutions brand themselves and actively recruit international students and researchers. We see a need for greater focus on credit transfer agreements with partner institutions abroad to facilitate student mobility. On a daily basis, institutions are the ones who must deliver a quality experience for international students. For example, practically speaking, institutions might be able to extend their application period to reduce visa application bottleneck by spreading out applications.
All institutions in Canada have an important role to play in creating global citizens by fostering global mindedness. Further, institutions can also educate their local community as to the value and importance of international students, encouraging and providing the ground for an integrated and welcoming approach.
Institutions must continue to create strategic partnerships—institution to institution, person to person—for academic exchange and research innovation.
Canada’s public schools: Developing global citizens
The Pembina Trails School Division in Winnipeg established its International Student Program in 1995. Since the beginning of the program, international students have been hosted in homestays. Many of these students return to Winnipeg to visit their former homestay family and friends, and homestay families often travel to their student’s country to visit as well. A number of students who graduated from secondary schools in the Pembina Trails School Division have gone on to pursue their post-secondary education at the University of Manitoba. Recently, the division has partnered with the University of Manitoba to provide a “pathway” to help international students transition from Pembina Trails schools to university.
The Calgary Board of Education’s (CBE) commitment to international education is embedded in the CBE Global Learning Strategy. One of the guiding principles of the strategy is “that international, intercultural and global competencies develop through the practice and subsequent reflection of engaging with people, languages and experiences, diverse in scope and nature.” Support for these kinds of experiential and inquiry-based learning opportunities, with the globe in mind, are demonstrated through the CBE’s International Youth Leadership summits in Calgary and in China, as well as through the school board’s International Certificate. More than 300 CBE students have participated in one of these summits to date, with meaningful relationships being established with the International School of Macau, Beijing Experimental High School, the Canadian International School of Beijing and Chongqing High School.
Given the richness of knowledge within education associations and institutions, the panel sees great potential for job shadowing and secondments, from the education sector to the Government of Canada, to enable the mutual sharing of ideas and expertise and foster greater co-operation.
The panel reached out to the private sector, specifically to human resource professionals and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), to gather information related to their current and future labour market needs.
The panel sees a need for greater exchange with the private sector, which can foster the culture of excellence among young people. There is scope for the sector to contribute to scholarships (for Canadians to go abroad or for international students to come to Canada). Further, by offering to host students for internships (in Canada and abroad), the private sector is a partner of choice in developing globally minded talent.
Ongoing exchange is required to clarify the skill sets needed to ensure Canada’s prosperity is not hampered by labour shortages.
Canadian Council of Chief Executives: Supporting education and research linkages
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) recognizes that Canada’s International Education Strategy will complement efforts to open up new trade opportunities for Canadian business. Among these efforts are two CEO forums, one for India and the other for Brazil. Composed of chief executives from leading small, medium-and large-sized enterprises, the Canadian forum teams plan to focus on encouraging investment and trade in a number of sectors and fostering research, innovation and education linkages with their counterparts in India and Brazil. The objective will be to identify concrete, pragmatic policy priorities to enhance commercial relations as well as establish a number of concrete private-sector projects in each country.
As Sam Boutziouvis, CCCE’s Vice-President of Policy, International and Fiscal Issues, describes: “Our future prosperity will increasingly depend upon the intensification of knowledge and innovation exchanges. The economic activity generated in Canada from international students alone is greater than the activity generated from some of our resource exports. Greater international knowledge and innovation exchanges will also directly benefit the Canadian economy. The Canadian private sector is already co-operating with a number of academic institutions globally on a number of research projects. There is room to do more to catalyze these efforts.”