We were honoured to be asked to serve on the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy. We were struck by the breadth and depth of current engagement by partners and stakeholders.
In our view, Canada already has strong foundations in international education. Our institutions offer high quality in all subsectors. Provincial/territorial jurisdiction has allowed for the development of a rich and diverse educational landscape.
For Canada to achieve its goals, we do not see the need for a major overhaul. It is clear to us that collectively, the efforts of provinces/territories, education associations and institutions are putting Canada on the right path. Rather, we see the need for course corrections so that Canada does not stray from that path. Some changes are required, mainly regarding the coordination of promotional efforts to ensure they are cohesive and coherent, as well as more extensive use of digital strategies. Further, governments, both federal and provincial/territorial, must ensure there is an alignment of education, labour market and immigration policies.
Again, the panel recognizes recent Government of Canada investments related to international education, including specific funding allocations to revise the international education strategy. The extent to which Canada can seize this current moment and become a leader in international education is commensurate with the investment we, as a country, are prepared to make to support internationalization efforts at all levels.
This report has highlighted the many benefits of international education, both economic and societal. In the global knowledge economy, how we manage international education will affect the course of our economic prosperity as well as our place in the world. The diplomacy of knowledge is powerful and can be a tool for Canada to achieve its goals.
As the Government of Canada implements the international education strategy, targets for success, the doubling of international student numbers by 2022 and the increase in opportunities for Canadian students to study abroad, are achievable given Canada’s capacity and a strong willingness to ensure greater international exposure for Canadian students.
Policy coordination and sustaining quality will be required to ensure that growth occurs in a manageable way without threatening our greatest asset: the quality of our education offering. Our success will be marked by coming together to promote Imagine Education in/au Canada in a way that is responsive to new media and clear to an international audience: Canada is the brand.
Finally, greater investments in scholarships will propel Canada forward in its quest to attract top talent and achieve our goal of making international education a key driver of Canada’s future prosperity.