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International Education: A Key Driver of Canada’s Future Prosperity

Chapter 3: Context for Our Recommendations


Federal, provincial/territorial and private entities are all involved in the promotion of Canada as a destination of choice for study and research. Over the years, each actor has developed their own approach, with or without a vision for the whole.

3.1 Importance of provincial/territorial jurisdiction

As provinces/territories have jurisdiction over education in Canada, we recognized them as key partners with the Government of Canada in developing the strategy. The Advisory Panel Chair engaged with representatives from ministries of education/higher education from all 10 provinces engaged in international education. These discussions provided insight into the varying level of involvement and priorities of each provincial government in international education, and indicated their desire to continue collaborating with the federal government on the international education strategy. In addition, working-level representatives were invited to attend round tables in their respective regions as observers, and senior officials were invited to the collaboratory. The panel also exchanged with the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, as appropriate, especially via the Advisory Committee of Deputy Ministers of Education. On a go-forward basis, we trust that CMEC will continue to play a central role in charting the course related to provincial or territorial approaches to quality assurance.

In June 2011, CMEC published an international education marketing action plan, entitled Bringing Education in Canada to the World, Bringing the World to Canada: An International Education Marketing Action Plan for Provinces and territories. This action plan, developed by provincial/territorial ministers of education in response to the Council of the Federation, focuses on international student recruitment and retention as well as mobility for Canadian students, with attention given to the important role of federal-provincial/territorial collaboration.

The action plan’s desired outcomes are:

  • a greater number of international students studying in Canada;
  • an increased share for Canada of the international student market;
  • more opportunities for Canadian students to study abroad; and
  • a greater number of international students choosing to remain in Canada as permanent residents after graduation.

The action plan is described as the basis of a pan-Canadian international education marketing action plan and recommends that provincial/territorial ministers responsible for education and for immigration, to the fullest extent possible within the context of existing resources, begin work immediately to implement the plan.

In its essence, the proposed strategy that we are recommending is aligned with the basic principles and outcomes of the CMEC’s action plan.

Building on solid foundations: what has Canada achieved so far?

3.2 Contributions of the federal government

3.2.1 Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

The mandate of DFAIT is to promote Canada abroad and to defend Canadian interests and values on the international stage. DFAIT’s work includes providing strategic directions and intelligence, as well as engaging and influencing international counterparts, delivering international programs and maintaining key networks abroad in a whole-of-government approach. Within its mandate, international education is considered an important diplomacy and trade sector.

3.2.1.1 Edu-Canada

Based on briefings provided to us by DFAIT to inform our work, we learned about the current engagement and achievements of the federal government in international education.

In 2007, the Government of Canada announced the establishment of an international education promotion initiative, funded with $1 million per year over five years. Dubbed “Edu-Canada”, it leveraged DFAIT’s network of embassies and offices abroad to undertake promotion efforts and attract more international students to Canada. Under the Edu-Canada pilot project, DFAIT also entered into a partnership with the provincial and territorial governments via CMEC. Together, they have launched and jointly manage Canada’s education brand.

DFAIT, it should be noted, has always facilitated the promotional efforts of provinces/territories, education associations as well as institutions abroad.

In its first five years, Edu-Canada achievements include:

  • Creating a new education brand for Canada, Imagine Education au/in Canada, developed in partnership with provincial/territorial governments;v
  • Setting priority markets (in consultation with provincial/territorial governments);
  • Launching a marketing campaign in priority markets, using the brand;
  • Enhancing client service through the creation of an online portal (Edu-Canada PRO) for market intelligence;
  • Increasing the international use of Canadian curricula; and,
  • Increasing institutional agreements to facilitate two-way student mobility via Edu-Canada's leadership in organizing Canada pavilions at signature events as well as focused bilateral or regional round tables.

More specifically, from 2007 to 2012, Edu-Canada’s goals included:

  • Increase international students to Canada by 20 percent
    • Achieved, with a 36 percent increase from 2007 to 2011
  • Increase international use of Canadian curricula by 10 percent
    • Achieved, with a 41 percent increase from 2006 to 2011
  • Increase number of agreements facilitating two-way student mobility
    • Achieved via bilateral round tables and trade show event profile
The Canada booth at the 2012 Conference of the Americas on International Education in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Canada booth at the 2012 Conference of the Americas on International Education in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo courtesy of DFAIT.

In 2011, Edu-Canada organized 170 education promotion events in 95 countries and participated at six of the most prominent trade events for education partnership, showcasing Canada to an audience that totalled more than 100,000. As of March 2012, there are 10 full-time education officers as well as shared resources distributed across 123 countries. The embassies and consulates play a key role in organizing Imagine Education au/in Canada regional tours, outreach activities, participation in third-party events, and provide tremendous support to Canadian institutions and education associations looking for partners or greater market intelligence. This coordinated approach has been most effective in leveraging resources and authoritative roles to launch and implement the early stages of Canada’s education brand initiative.

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3.2.1.2 Policy and planning

The Policy and Planning Unit within DFAIT’s International Education and Youth Division provides leadership in Canada’s bilateral and multilateral relations in international education. It also coordinates the negotiation, signing and ratification of instruments of co-operation on education-related issues with different states and international organizations.

The unit implements the Canada-India Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Higher Education Co-operation, signed in June 2010, to encourage continued co-operation between institutions of higher education based on each country’s academic, scientific and education needs.

In the context of Canada’s engagement with the Americas, on August 30, 2010, Canada signed an MOU with Brazil in the area of academic mobility and scientific co-operation. A first program, the Canada-Brazil Awards: Joint Research Projects, was launched for uptake in the 2011–12 academic year. Canada has a number of other instruments of co-operation in education, including with China, Europe, Mexico and the United States.

3.2.1.3 International scholarships

DFAIT funds scholarships to attract international students to Canadian institutions, to promote brain circulation to Canada and to create institutional linkages (approximately 700 a year). DFAIT’s international scholarships are structured to advance Canada’s foreign policy and target allocations to Canada’s priority regions.

They include the Emerging Leaders of the Americas (including all programs drawing funding from it, such as the Canada-Brazil Awards: Joint Research Projects), the Canada-CARICOM [Caribbean Community and Common Market] scholarship programs (including the full suite of component awards such as the Canada-Haiti Scholarship initiative), the Canada-Chile leadership Exchange Program, the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program (CCSEP) and The Fulbright Program.

Further, the federal granting agencies administer the prestigious Vanier CGS and Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships. These fellowships are open to Canadian citizens/permanent residents and international students.

3.2.1.4 International Experience Canada

DFAIT’s International Experience Canada (IEC) initiative negotiates bilateral youth mobility arrangements and agreements with foreign countries. These instruments aim to simplify the process for Canadian and foreign youth aged 18–35 to travel and work in another country for up to one year.

To date, Canada has 32 bilateral youth mobility arrangements and agreements with countries and territories. IEC also facilitates university and college co-op education-related inter-institutional agreements for work placements in Canada and various countries, and works with a number of private Canadian businesses and bona fide international organizations that facilitate cultural exchanges for youth. Canadian embassies and offices abroad administer the IEC program for foreign applicants, while foreign embassies and consulates administer the program for Canadians.

International and Canadian youth who travel and work in Canada or other countries under the IEC program acquire a better understanding of each other's country, language(s), culture and society, building greater people-to-people ties between Canada and other countries.

In 2010, nearly 57,000 young adults from around the world came to Canada under IEC, which represented approximately one third of temporary workers in Canada under CIC’s temporary Foreign Worker Program. Many foreign IEC participants also attend short-term language courses while in Canada and some return to Canada following their IEC participation to engage in post-secondary education. Additionally, foreign IEC participants establish their own network of contacts while in Canada, which helps strengthen linkages between Canada and its partner countries, and potentially create future links for Canada in the area of global trade and commerce.

3.2.2 Other government departments and agencies with a role in international education

3.2.2.1 Citizenship and Immigration Canada

CIC manages the international students program in terms of permits and visas. CIC has created programs such as the off-campus Work Permit Program and the Canadian Experience Class that enable international students to gain work experience during their studies and to potentially remain in Canada after they graduate. These programs are important components of the international education strategy, as the option to work while studying in Canada is attractive for international students and researchers.

3.2.2.2 Canada Border Services Agency

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for examining international students seeking entry at Canadian ports of entry and issuing study permits when all eligibility requirements are met. As the CBSA is responsible for enforcement matters within the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, the agency monitors compliance and conducts investigations that may result in subsequent removal from Canada of those found in violation of the legislation.

3.2.2.3 Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada encourages international students to study in Canada through the promotion of international educational opportunities and partnerships. These activities support Canada’s efforts to secure the skills it needs to respond to current and future labour market demands.

HRSDC also encourages Canadians to study abroad. Canadian students are eligible to receive Canada Student Loans and Grants for study throughout Canada and abroad at accredited post-secondary education institutions. In 2010–11, approximately 2.5 percent of CSl recipients (more than 10,000 students) studied abroad.

Both Canadian and international students can benefit from visiting HRSDC’s website Working in Canada, which offers tailored learning and labour market information that can provide a better understanding of Canada’s labour market, including licensing and certification information.

3.2.2.4 Canadian International Development Agency

Basic education continues to be at the forefront of Canada’s official development assistance and accounts for the majority of CIDA’s investment in the education sector. CIDA’s Children and Youth Strategy includes a component that focuses on access to quality education for all children, particularly girls.

CIDA also supports linkages between Canadian universities and post-secondary institutions in developing countries through the University Partnerships for Co-operation and Development and other programs.

In addition, CIDA funds scholarships for nationals of the 37 developing country members of la Francophonie to take up short-term post-secondary studies in Canadian institutions. The Canadian Francophonie Scholarship Program is managed by the AUCC.

CIDA provides funding for the Education for Employment (EFE) program to strengthen the technical and vocational education and training sector. The five-year EFE program is implemented by the ACCC with key government and non-government stakeholders in the Andean region including Colombia, Peru and Bolivia; the CARICOM states; and, in Africa, in Senegal, Tanzania and Mozambique.

3.2.2.5 Industry Canada

Consistent with its mandate in science, technology and innovation, Industry Canada has an interest in strengthening Canada’s ability to attract the world’s top graduate students and post-doctoral fellows as part of the federal government’s efforts to make Canada a global centre of excellence in research, innovation and higher learning.

The three federal granting agencies—NSERC, SSHRC and the CIHR—administer the prestigious Vanier CGS and Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships. Both of these programs are open to Canadian citizens/permanent residents and international students. While the Vanier CGS must be held at Canadian universities, a limited number of Canadian recipients may hold the Banting Fellowship at a foreign research institution.

The natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council report to Parliament through the Minister of Industry, whereas the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is accountable to Parliament through the Minister of Health.

3.2.2.6 International Development Research Centre

A Canadian Crown corporation established in 1970, IDRC is guided by an international board of governors and reports to Canada’s parliament through the Minister of Foreign Affairs. IDRC is among the world’s top 10 funders of development research.

Effective December 1, 2012, IDRC will have four regional offices, in Nairobi, Kenya; Cairo, Egypt; New Delhi, India; and Montevideo, Uruguay.

IDRC’s main internal divisions are Agriculture and Environment, Global Health Policy, Science and Innovation, and Social and Economic Policy.

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3.3 Current contributions of all partners and stakeholders

3.3.1 Provinces/territories

Provinces/territories are active in international education and have formulated the aforementioned action plan related to international activities.

Provincial/territorial governments invest in their own internationally focused initiatives that promote study and research within their own jurisdiction. They provide the regional incentives for students to choose their province/territory. Some provinces/territories contribute funds by investing directly in scholarships for international students to study in Canada or for domestic students to study abroad. For example:

  • In 2010, Ontario announced the Ontario Trillium Scholarship (OTS) program, which provides 75 students with $40,000/year for up to four years to pursue doctoral studies at an Ontario university. The province is investing $20 million during the initial four years of the program (with participating universities contributing a further $10 million).
  • According to officials from Alberta, that province offers 400 grants for study abroad, each valued at $1,500 plus an additional $500 for travel.

Provinces/territories also contribute by supporting the enrollment of international students in their institutions through their respective funding mechanisms. We learned that Nova Scotia, for example, provides funding for international students at the institutional level of 10 percent of undergraduate enrollment, and 30 percent of graduate enrollment (limits above which international students will not be supported by public funding).vi  At times, they also support institutions’ participation in promotional fairs.

Other contributions are in the form of support for provincial/territorial education associations such as Edunova (in Nova Scotia) and the British Columbia Council for International Education (BCCIE), which promote international education activities in their respective provinces. Provincial/territorial governments (and in some cases, regional associations) are also active abroad through the establishment of branch offices, such as the Alberta Education Centre in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the Edunova Gulf office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Provinces such as British Columbia and Quebec may also leverage their international trade offices (or immigration offices in the case of Quebec) to promote education in their respective institutions.

EduNova: Facilitating internationalization at the provincial level

EduNova Co-operative Ltd. was founded in 2005 and opened in October 2006 as a Nova Scotia-based not-for-profit, co-operative association of education and training providers. Shareholders include the Department of Education, the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, the seven English school boards, language schools, the 13-campus Nova Scotia Community College, 11 universities and several private consulting firms. EduNova has played a significant role in promoting Nova Scotia as a study destination and as a partner in international projects.

Honourable Darrell Dexter, Premier of Nova Scotia, and EduNova President and CEO Ava Czapalay visiting the EduNova Gulf office in Abu Dhabi.
The Honourable Darrell Dexter, Premier of Nova Scotia (third from left), and Ava Czapalay, President and CEO of EduNova (second from left) visiting the EduNova Gulf office in Abu Dhabi. Photo courtesy of EduNova.

The organization has two primary areas of business: to facilitate international student recruitment and international contract work. To date, the results speak for themselves: Nova Scotia's international student enrollments have increased by 44 percent since 2007, with a total of 7,567 international students studying in member organizations throughout the province. A concerted effort aimed at retaining international students in the K-12 sector for post-secondary studies has seen the retention rate escalate from 28 percent (2007) to 42 percent (2011). In addition, the shareholders are actively engaged in the organization, meeting more than 100 times with quorum since 2006 and participating in more than 44 out-bound student recruitment missions, 15 in-bound familiarization tours and 16 student-retention events.

British Columbia announced in September 2011 the goal of increasing international student enrollment by 50 percent over four years. On May 28, 2012, the province released its international education strategy to support this goal.17 In 2010, the Government of Saskatchewan named an international education council to enhance co-operation between various educational institutions regarding international student recruitment and the promotion of global citizenship.18

The provinces/territories have control over allowing the creation of a curriculum school abroad. These schools can act as a pathway to education in Canada in that the students at curriculum schools abroad can choose to pursue their higher education studies in Canada. Given their prominence in showcasing Canada abroad, it is imperative that the standards of excellence in Canada be maintained in these schools. In China alone, there are currently 56 curriculum schools that help raise visibility for Canada among the students and their parents.vii

British Columbia Council for International Education:

Providing leadership in British Columbia’s international education sector

The British Columbia Council for International Education represents the international education interests of the public and private, government-accredited K-12, post-secondary and English language sectors in British Columbia. The BCCIE provides coordinated leadership for B.C.’s international education sector. It is responsible for administering Education Quality Assurance (EQA), Canada’s first and only provincial brand of quality for post-secondary education. The BCCIE also provides market support by positioning B.C. as a leading quality destination for international learners; offers professional training, and core services to international educators; and promotes a culture of quality and excellence in internationalization.

Students in a classroom.
Photo courtesy of the BCCIE.

“Our core activities have contributed to the advancement of the international education sector in B.C. and ensured best practices are upheld in our professional community. Organizing activities such as the annual Summer Seminar conference encourages knowledge sharing among educators. We have coordinated visiting education delegations, and provided support for government-led missions, to help build and nurture international partnerships. Our administration of EQA on behalf of the province is a key pillar to our work, and continues to provide value to B.C.’s post-secondary sector by ensuring one standard provincial seal that can be recognized globally as a symbol of quality. Adding to the breadth of our service offerings, we recently launched StudyinBC.com, an interactive, student-focused online resource for study options in B.C. It is the only directory covering all regions and types of institutions in the province. We continue to work alongside schools, school districts and institutions to capture the B.C. international student experience,” says Colin Doerr, Director of Communications and Programs for BCCIE.

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3.3.2 Education associations

We met with a variety of stakeholders (education associations and institutions) in the education sector at the regional, provincial and national levels (please see Annex C for a list of stakeholders in the Canadian education community). The education associations often organize activities to support the internationalization efforts of their members, such as international delegations and forums to support their member institutions in the establishment of partnerships with foreign institutions. national associations also provide effective communications channels for disseminating information among their members, conduct research and analysis to inform their members’ activities, and regularly convene their membership. They also provide professional development workshops and, in some cases, quality-assurance mechanisms.

Several national associations also maintain an international presence through the establishment of offices abroad. For example, ACCC has regional offices in China, India, the Philippines and the United Kingdom. The World University Service of Canada (WUSC) has established offices in Burkina Faso, Botswana, Malawi, Sri lanka, Vietnam and Peru, as well as strong chapters in campuses across Canada.

National associations contribute to the whole-of-Canada marketing approach by supporting the international recruitment and partnership work of their member institutions based across the country. In some cases, associations are able to undertake international activities with the help of funding from DFAIT’s Global opportunities for Associations (GOA) program, which provides contribution funding to support national associations undertaking new or expanded international business development activities in strategic markets and sectors.

Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada:

Leveraging synergies between Canada and Brazil

Led by Governor General David Johnston, a delegation of some 30 university presidents organized by the AUCC were in Brazil from April 25 to May 2, 2012. They met with Brazilian university rectors, participated in the 2012 Conference of the Americas on International Education, visited world-class research facilities, toured university campuses, and met with key government and private-sector stakeholders and funding agencies. During this visit, Canadian universities announced more than 75 formal partnerships, agreements and scholarship programs worth more than $6.7 million.

The size, seniority and scope of the mission made a significant impact in Brazil, generating substantial press coverage in Brazil and highlighting the excellence of Canadian higher education to position Canada as a partner of choice in higher education, research and innovation.

Following a meeting with the Governor General, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced that Canada will be allocated up to 12,000 students under the Science Without Borders program. Canada is thus set to receive the second-largest delegation of Brazilian students in the world. Brazil is looking to Canada for excellence in academic, research and work experience for their students. “There are clear synergies between our two countries in important areas of research and discovery,” says Paul Davidson, AUCC president. “The strategic investments announced during this mission will help drive trade, build prosperity and enhance quality of life in both Canada and Brazil.”

3.3.3 Education institutions

Internationalization is a priority for Canadian institutions. While the level of engagement in international activities may vary among institutions, individual efforts contribute to the greater collective’s objectives of the international education strategy. There is a qualitative difference in how undergraduate and graduate students are recruited, a factor that should be considered in the development of the international education strategy.

Institutions across Canada have realized the benefit of a coordinated approach for Canada in their targeted activities. Of note, the Canadian Higher Education Committee, which serves more than 40 Canadian universities within the Council of International Schools (CIS), coordinates targeted undergraduate tours for top students in key markets: latin America, India and the Middle East. The committee develops conference sessions and material to support information exchange for international students and counsellors of international schools, to better promote opportunities for university education in Canada.

A group of recruiters from a number of Canada’s business schools have recently begun working together to promote Canada as a destination for pursuing a high-quality MBA. The goal of this effort is to increase the number of potential applicants considering Canada as a destination for studies in business. These are the kinds of coordinated, institutionally driven initiatives that contribute to stronger recognition of Canada around the world.

University of Manitoba: Investing to attract talented Brazilian graduate students

The University of Manitoba signed an MOU with the Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES). CAPES is administering 100,000 student scholarships under the Science Without Borders program. The University of Manitoba will position itself to become an institution of choice for Brazilian graduate students. “Knowledge and talent knows no borders. We are proud to make historic investments to ensure Brazilian graduate students recognize they are welcomed and valued in Manitoba,” says David Barnard, President, University of Manitoba. Under the five-year agreement signed with CAPES, the University of Manitoba will invest up to $880,000. The funds will help cover the costs of tuition fees and English language education. The investments will be used to attract 20 Brazilian doctoral or masters students annually, starting in 2012–13.

The University of Manitoba recognized that the high quality of Brazil’s universities provided an opportunity to attract qualified students who would be eligible for the SWB scholarships. Manitoba already has several strong partnerships in Brazil. In April, these were strengthened by signing an agreement with the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Campinas, which is home to a research collaboration focusing on community-based resource management and food security in coastal Brazil.

Selkirk College: Providing valuable learning experiences through partnership

A red, three-storey sign proclaims the Sino-Canadian Selkirk College at Taiyuan Normal University (TNU) on a TNU building in Taiyuan, China. The building is home to a three-year English diploma program that focuses on business and tourism English. This program is the result of collaboration between TNU and Selkirk College that began in 2010. TNU develops and delivers the curriculum, and prepares the students for the English leaving test that all Chinese students are required to write. It also manages all logistics for the program, including student and faculty recruitment. Selkirk College provides curriculum expertise, faculty professional development, and an annual placement assessment for each student as required by Selkirk’s English Language Program (ELP). Through this partnership, TNU benefits from access to native-language English teachers, faculty professional development, and a supported transition to Selkirk College for students who wish to study in Canada. In return, Selkirk College TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) graduates have an opportunity for an international practicum and paid faculty working experience in China. As well, the college is building a stream of educated, well equipped international students for its post-secondary programs in British Columbia. An additional benefit has been the development of an online placement testing tool that is used by all ELP students at Selkirk. Today, more than 700 Chinese students are registered in the program, with the first TNU students expected at Selkirk College in September 2012.

Women at the Selkirk College campus in Taiwan.
Photo courtesy of Selkirk College.

“Partnerships, like this one with Taiyuan Normal University, provide many benefits to the partner institutions but, more importantly, they provide wonderful learning experiences for students, instructors and communities in both countries,” says Neil Coburn, Vice-President—Education and Students, Selkirk.

Canadian institutions allocate substantial funding for the provision of scholarships and grants to international students and researchers. For example, the University of British Columbia, a very active institution, internationally speaking, devotes more than $4 million annually to awards, scholarships and other forms of financial assistance for international undergraduate students.19

A significant institutional contribution is the work of institutions to develop policies and practices that facilitate internationalization. An example is the establishment of international research collaboration projects or partnerships with foreign institutions to provide joint degrees. Another example is the articulation of credit recognition agreements with foreign institutions that facilitate study abroad.

Knowledge exports (i.e. The provision of education products and services by Canadian post-secondary institutions overseas) are an increasingly important area of activity that bring economic value to the education sector and constitute an integral part of efforts by Canadian institutions to internationalize their campuses. For example, the University of Waterloo’s campus in the United Arab Emirates offers a 2+2 program, which requires two years of study at the branch campus followed by two years of study at the home institution in Canada.20 These programs can facilitate entry into Canada for international students by allowing them to demonstrate their commitment to the completion of their academic program. Many institutions also export their curriculum or deliver entire programs abroad.

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Northern Alberta Institute of Technology: Sharing Canadian training expertise

As one of Canada’s leading polytechnics and the country’s largest apprenticeship trainer, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) prides itself in being relevant and responsive. For the past 50 years, students have benefited from hands-on, technology-based teaching programs.

When the opportunity arose in 1999 to partner with CIDA and participate in developing Cuba’s National Industrial Certification Centre (CNCI), NAIT responded. The program, facilitated by Cuba’s Ministry of Basic Industry, has positively affected Cuba’s pursuit of sustainable economic growth.

With instructor training in Cuba and at NAIT in Edmonton, and the provision of state-of-the-art equipment for CNCI laboratories and shops, the partnership has improved and enhanced skill levels in Cuba’s workforce. NAIT president and CEO Dr. Glenn Feltham notes that the partnership has far-reaching benefits: “By bringing a successful Canadian learning model and our expertise to Cuba, NAIT has raised the standard of trade skills within Cuba, but more importantly we are bringing Canadian values to Cuba.”

Cuba's national centre for industrial certification.
Cuba’s National Industrial Certification Centre. Photo courtesy of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Between 2000 and 2010, approximately 1,200 Cubans achieved international certification, based on NAIT and Alberta curriculum, from among the more than 16,400 CNCI graduates. NAIT’s partnership with CIDA has served to elevate teaching standards at CNCI and strengthen Cuba’s Ministry of Basic Industry in advancing a diverse, inclusive and skilled workforce.

Similarly to some provinces/territories and associations, Canadian institutions are working to better serve and attract international students by establishing offices and counselling centres abroad. For example, Toronto’s Centennial College has seven satellite international offices around the world, including an international education office in Bangalore, India, which offers free counselling regarding programs at the college and answers questions about study permit applications.21

3.3.4 Private-sector and individual contributions

We recognize that industry in Canada also plays a valuable role in international education efforts, and we see this as a role with great potential for expansion. A variety of companies in Canada may offer internship opportunities to qualified international students with work permits or internships abroad for Canadian students. For example, international graduate students or post-doctoral fellows at more than 50 research-based Canadian universities are eligible to participate in an internship under the Mitacs-Accelerate program. This program, administered by Mitacs and supported by funding from the Government of Canada’s Industrial Research and Development Internship (IRDI) program, connects companies in Canada with interns in a variety of disciplines and industry sectors to apply their specialized expertise to business-related challenges.

There are also individuals or private organizations that choose to make donations or provide sponsorships to education institutions or associations to fund international scholarships, either to provide awards to international students coming to Canada or to support Canadian students going to study abroad.

Supporting Japanese students with private contributions

Minister of International Trade Ed Fast presenting a scholarship to a Japanese student.
The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia Pacific Gateway, presents 16-year-old Mako Matsukawa with one of the first Hope for Youth scholarships, which were established by the Embassy of Canada to Japan. Photo courtesy of Languages Canada.

In 2011, Languages Canada launched the Hope for Youth (HFY) scholarship program for Japanese students affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. With the support of DFAIT, HFY brought 150 Japanese students to Canada. HFY received $1.5 million in contributions from LC members as well as Air Canada, GuardMe insurance and Samantha Thavasa Japan Limited. Mr. Kazumasa Terada, President of Samantha Thavasa, is also a founding sponsor of the Canada-Japan Leadership Fund. Mr. Terada is a prime example of the impact of international education for Canada. He attributes part of his success in business to his studies in Canada and is now supporting Japanese students affected by the earthquake rebuild their lives through a Canadian educational experience. These efforts helped Canada gain new status in Japan. Recently, the Ryugaku Journal, an influential English-language Japanese magazine, selected five Canadian language education providers in its top 10 list from around the world. In recognition of the success of the HFY initiative, the Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, presented one of the first HFY scholarships to a Japanese student in October 2011 in Shiogama, Japan.

Organizations such as banks may also enter into partnerships that facilitate studying in Canada for international students. An example of this is the CIC’s Study Direct Stream for qualifying study permit applicants in China. Under this stream, students with English language proficiency who have been accepted to designated colleges or universities may submit a guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) from a participating financial institution (currently only Royal Bank of Canada and BMO Bank of Montreal) in place of most financial documents when applying for a study permit. This can make applying to study in Canada easier for international students by reducing the number of documents that need to be submitted.

Initiatives such as these with private partners to provide services and support for international students can make valuable contributions to the internationalization goals of Canadian institutions.

3.4 Dovetailing with previous expert panels

It is important to note that we are not alone in looking at the issues of education, labour market needs and fostering greater innovation for the country. The need to attract and develop top talent has also been raised by previous panels. Our recommendations chart a possible course for Canada that follows the road paved by expert panels before us, including the Expert Panel for the Review of Federal Support to Research and Development, the Competition Policy Review Panel, and the Expert Panel on Commercialization. Salient conclusions from these panels are outlined in Annex A.

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3.5 Environmental scan: The international education landscape

In setting the stage for making our recommendations, it was important for us to look beyond the achievements and progress that Canada has made to gain an understanding of the international education market as a whole. In 2009, nearly 3.7 million students worldwide were pursuing tertiary education outside their country of citizenship.22 A recent projection suggests that this number could increase to 6.4 million students in 2025.23 According to the OECD, 5 percent of all the tertiary students who study abroad choose to do so in Canada.24 The table below illustrates changes in international education market shares in major destination countries. Canada is the fourth most popular of all English-speaking destinations, behind the United States (18 percent), the United Kingdom (10 percent) and Australia (7 percent), and second in French-speaking destinations, after France (7 percent).25 As Canada continues to deepen its engagement in international education, we must acknowledge and learn from the efforts of other countries active in the sector.

Our initial understanding of the international education landscape came from a benchmark study commissioned by DFAIT in 2009, Best Practices on Managing the Delivery of Canadian Education Marketing. The report provided a detailed overview of the international promotion of education by several highly competitive destination countries: Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. With the findings of this report as a baseline, we sought to assess more recent developments among competitor countries in the international education market.viii

Trends in international education market shares (2000, 2009)
View alternative text

A bar graph displaying the international student market share of various countries in 2000 and 2009.

1 Data relate to international students defined on the basis of their country of residence.
2 Year of reference 2008. Countries are ranked in descending order of 2009 market shares.
Source: OECD and UNESCO Institute for Statistics for most data on non-OECD countries. table C3.6, available online. See Annex 3 for notes.

3.5.1 United States

The United States continues to be the world’s leading destination for international students, hosting over 720,000 of them in 2010–11.26 International promotion of education in the United States is done by EducationUSA, a global network of advising centres supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.27 the U.S. government remains active in its efforts to maintain and increase its international student population. In September 2011, the Department of Homeland Security launched the Study in the States Initiative, which will examine and streamline the U.S. international student visa process.28 The initiative also includes a comprehensive interactive website with links to a variety of social media tools. This is part of a broader, government-wide effort to attract and retain international talent to the United States, which includes reforms to support and employ international students in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.29 Also, the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council, composed of university presidents and academic leaders, was established in March 2012 to advise the government on a range of issues including international students.30

The U.S. government also maintains substantial support for international mobility opportunities for students, particularly through its flagship Fulbright Program. In 2011, funding of more than US$230 million ($236 million)ix was appropriated to The Fulbright Program.31 The program provides awards for both American students to study abroad and for international students going to the United States. Since it was created in 1946, the program has supported over 310,000 scholars.32

3.5.2 United Kingdom

Many international students choose the United Kingdom as a destination for its long history of prestigious institutions and its strong Commonwealth ties. The second Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education (PMI2), launched in April 2006, set out a five-year strategy that contributed to enhancing the United Kingdom’s reputation as an international education provider. PMI2 projects and activities supported targets such as attracting 70,000 additional international students to U.K. higher education, improving student satisfaction, increasing institutional partnerships, and strengthening and achieving impact from existing partnerships.33 Since 2006, the number of international students at U.K. higher education institutions has grown by nearly 30 percent to more than 420,000.34 However, in recognition of the impact of international student growth on U.K. immigration levels, as well as instances of fraud by poor-quality colleges affecting legitimate students, the government has worked to overhaul its student visa system. Following a public consultation, changes to the system were announced in March 2011. These included the need for sponsoring institutions to be accredited, a higher English-speaking requirement, restrictions on work placements in courses outside universities, and the closure of the post-study work route (which allowed students two years to find employment after their course ended).35 As of April 2012, new student visa rules were implemented with an emphasis on addressing abuse and supporting young entrepreneurs after their study.36

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3.5.3 Australia

Australia experienced significant growth in international student enrollment between 2006 and 2009, demonstrated by an increase of almost 65 percent during that time. 37, 38 However, the Australian government has acknowledged challenges the country has faced in recent years, from factors including “the high Australian dollar, the poor quality of some former [education] providers, changes to Australian visa requirements and reputational damage caused by a number of attacks on students in 2009,” resulting in an overall decline in international student enrollment since 2010.39

In response to these challenges, a series of government-initiated reviews have led to substantial reforms in Australia’s international education sector. These reviews included the Senate Inquiry into the Welfare of International Students, the Review of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 (the Baird Review), and the Knight Review of the Student Visa Program. Furthermore, in October 2011, Australia’s Minister for Tertiary Education announced the establishment of the International Education Advisory Council to help the government develop a five-year international education strategy.40 The advisory council recently launched its consultation process with the release of a discussion paper in April 2012.

Notably, in July 2010, the Australian government transferred responsibility for the international marketing of education from Australian Education International (AEI, in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations) to the Australian trade Commission (Austrade). Similar to the Government of Canada’s approach, the education promotion mandate for Austrade covers activities such as research and provision of market intelligence and services for Australian education providers, publishing information on Australian government scholarships, and managing the Study in Australia brand. However, AEI “will continue to lead strategic policy, regulation and government-to-government engagement in the international education sector.”41 This transition demonstrates Australia’s recognition of international education as an export industry; education services provided A$16.3 billion ($16.8 billion) in export income to the Australian economy, representing the country’s third-largest source of overseas earnings.42 Funding for Austrade’s international education promotion activities comes from the budget of nearly A$190 million ($196 million) allocated for its work in trade, education and investment promotion in 2012–13.43

Despite the challenges it has faced, the Australian government continues to invest heavily in its efforts to attract top talent and form Australia’s image as an international education destination. A prime example of this investment is the Australia Awards initiative announced by the Australian government in 2009. In 2010, nearly 3,000 awards valued at more than A$210 million ($216 million) were offered to international and Australian recipients.44

3.5.4 Germany

Germany is also a significant destination for internationally mobile students. In spite of recent declines, in 2010, there were approximately 181,000 international students at German institutions of higher education, representing 8.5 percent of the entire student body.45 Germany’s success as a destination for international students was supported by the fact that its institutions did not charge tuition fees until 2006, and even in 2009, the highest tuition amount public German universities could charge was €1,000 ($1,300) per academic year.46 Germany should also be noted as a country that exemplifies the internationalization of education through its work to enable study abroad opportunities for German students. In 2008, over 100,000 Germans studied abroad, of whom 83 percent studied in other European countries.47 Many of these students were supported by scholarships from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which provided €109 million ($140 million) in funding for more than 31,000 Germans to study abroad in 2010.48 According to the German government, approximately 30 percent of German students go abroad during their studies, and DAAD and the government aim to increase this proportion to 50 percent.49

In addition to providing support for international opportunities for Germans, DAAD promotes the internationalization of German higher education and promotes German education abroad, among many other activities.50 the majority of these activities are funded by the German federal government, which provided 80 percent of the €384million ($494 million) budget for DAAD in 2010.51 The work of DAAD demonstrates a strong coordinated approach to the internationalization of higher education, regrouping internationalization at home, promotion abroad, international co-operation in developing countries, and the provision of scholarships for domestic and international students.

3.5.5 France

France remains a top destination for international students, attracting over 284,000 in 2010–11, which represented 12 percent of its total student population.52 France’s education offering is promoted internationally by Agence CampusFrance, a public institution that provides services for international students interested in studying in France through its network of offices and branches, called Espaces, in more than 100 countries.53 The French government is working more broadly to enhance France’s attractiveness abroad, including efforts to bring in more international students and researchers.

Recently implemented initiatives include the creation of a national research agency and “poles [centres] of research and higher education” to enable institutions and research bodies to pool resources and activities, an increased budget for the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, and increased autonomy of universities.54

In 2009, the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs allocated €86 million ($110 million) for scholarships to attract international students.55 France’s efforts to attract international students are supported by its long-standing ties to former colonies (particularly in Africa, which accounted for over 100,000 of international students in France in 2009), as well as the fact that its tuition fees are among the lowest in the world: the government defrays €10,000–14,000 ($13,000–18,000) of the true cost per student per year at public institutions.56, 57

France has identified several target markets for its international education activities, including Brazil, Russia, India and China (known as the BRIC countries) and other emerging countries, and countries providing scholarship programs for their students to go abroad, including Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Iraq and the Gulf States.58 the country is also aiming to attract at least one third of its international students at the Master’s and doctoral levels by 2015.59

3.5.6 New Zealand

In September 2011, the New Zealand government released Leadership Statement for International Education. The report set out ambitious objectives for the next 15 years, such as doubling the economic value of education services to NZ$5 billion ($4 billion) by increasing international enrollments, doubling the number of international post-graduate students in New Zealand from 10,000 to 20,000, and increasing the transition rate from study to residence for international students with Bachelor’s level qualifications and above.60 To help achieve these targets, in its 2011 budget the government increased investment in international education promotion by NZ$10 million ($8.1 million) a year to a total of NZ$13.45 million ($10.9 million) annually.61

3.5.7 Malaysia

Malaysia is a powerful example of an emerging provider nation that has made a clear statement of its goals in the international education market. Although the country has been a major source of international students for other countries (having been one of Australia’s top five nationalities of international student enrollment in 201162, and one of Canada’s top 25 source countries over the last 10 years, for example), Malaysia is working to establish itself as an international education hub in its region. The Malaysian government has identified education as a national key economic area under its Economic Transformation Programme, with tertiary education (including international students) as one of its key priority segments. A target has been set to double Malaysia’s international student enrollment (93,300 in 2011) and “to be the sixth-largest education exporting country globally in 2020 with 200,000 international students”.63 This goal is supported by initiatives to better brand Malaysia and raise awareness about education opportunities in the country, to enable top-tier students to seek employment in Malaysia, and to streamline international student visa application processes.64 The Malaysian government also views the establishment of branch campuses in Malaysia by internationally recognized institutions as an opportunity to enhance its positioning as a major destination for international students.65

Beyond these leading countries, many more nations are ramping up their engagement in the international education sector. These are only a few examples of the growing interest in several countries to establish themselves as regional hubs for international education—it will be important to continue to observe this trend in coming years.

It is clear to us that the internationalization of education is becoming a priority for governments and institutions around the world. While leading nations are re-evaluating their strategies in light of rising challenges, others are advancing their efforts to compete for the world’s best and brightest students and researchers. We see this as an opportunity for Canada to define itself in the international education market. Further, we believe that with sustained investment and coordinated action, Canada can leverage its competitive advantages and build on the momentum gained in recent years and meet our vision of becoming the 21st century leader in international education.

 

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v In 2008, deputy ministers of education of all provinces/territories, working closely with DFAIT, approved by consensus the proposed pan-Canadian education brand concept called Imagine Education au/in Canada, to be jointly managed by DFAIT and CMEC, on behalf of the provinces/territories. Canadian missions abroad and provinces/territories have access to all the branded promotional tools, whereas eligible Canadian institutions and non-government organizations have access only to the logo. Some provinces/territories use the brand platform in their own promotion, and more than 120 institutions have already applied to sign the sub-licence and use the brand logotype.

vi During a meeting with representatives from the Government of Nova Scotia, Labour and Advanced Education, the panel found out that this formula, which provides funds to support up to 10 percent international students (as a proportion of total undergraduate enrollment) or 30 percent of international students as a proportion of total graduate student enrollment, is currently under review (December 7, 2011).

vii The number of curriculum schools abroad is according to Canadian Information Centre for International Credential’s Directory of Canadian Elementary and Secondary Schools outside Canada, available online at www.cicic.ca.

viii For additional comparative metrics with key competitor countries, refer to Annex C.

ix Conversions to C$ are based on Bank of Canada exchange rates as of June 27, 2012.

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Date Modified:
2012-08-15