Our vision for Canada: become the 21st century leader in international education in order to attract top talent and prepare our citizens for the global marketplace, thereby providing key building blocks for our future prosperity.
We were honoured to accept the invitation to serve on the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy. Early on, we recognized the complexity of international education and the multitude of partners and stakeholders already engaged in various international initiatives.
Our mandate afforded us the opportunity to reach out to provincial/territorial partners and to stakeholders in order to get a good understanding of the current situation prior to being able to chart the course for the future. Our engagement process allowed us to get a real sense of the high-quality education offerings throughout the sector, from K-12 through PhD. For far too long, Canadian institutions have been a well-kept secret, perhaps because we have been too modest. The time is right to coordinate our efforts to showcase our greatest assets: the quality and diversity of our education offering. The time to do so is now, as we face strong international competition to attract top talent. Our key competitors are expanding their marketing and attraction efforts. Their greater brand recognition and financial clout will have a severe impact on our success in attracting top talent if we do not make a committed effort now to effectively market Canada.
We asked ourselves these questions: does the world know about Canada’s quality, world-class institutions? Are the best and brightest students thinking of Canada as they plan their future? our recommendations for the international education strategy are mindful of addressing these concerns and ensuring that Canada raises its international mind share. Raising mind share is the cornerstone to growing our education market share.
Why does this strategy matter at this juncture? Canada needs top talent. Top talent fuels innovation, and innovation drives economic prosperity. Top talent has the power to propel a society forward. Top talent drives the virtuous circle that can help redress our current and future demographic imbalances. If Canada wants to maintain its current standing, Canada must position itself to attract top talent.
This report will examine the direction we need to take to be the country we can be for our citizens and for the world. We have an opportunity to share our values of democracy, diversity, bilingualism and equality with the world. We have an opening to do good in the world. However, we are facing a narrow window of opportunity that requires us to coordinate our collective efforts in order to fully seize this opportunity.
As part of the engagement process, the advisory panel, supported by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, held online consultations (receiving 143 submissions) and seven regional cross-Canada round tables (meeting with 138 participants) in november and December 2011. Our engagement process culminated with a collaboratory in January 2012, where provincial partners and stakeholders came together to reach a consensus on the priorities for our recommendations.
We recognize the jurisdiction of the provinces/territories in education: we met with or spoke to senior officials from all provincial ministries of education active in international education to ensure alignment and reduce duplication of efforts. Education associations and institutions from K-12 through post-doctoral programs were consulted and remained dynamic sounding boards throughout our process.
Our engagement process confirmed that Canada has the opportunity and capacity for strong growth in attracting international students. It is feasible to double the number of international students by 2022 while maintaining high-quality standards. Further, it is imperative that we actively seek co-operative arrangements to encourage Canadian students to spend time abroad either in a study, internship or service learning experience.
We thank all who have contributed to this engagement process. We believe success will come from leveraging our strengths and from all working together in a coherent and cohesive way. Collaboration will ensure that we are taking full advantage of the opportunities in international education not only for Canada, but also to impart Canadian values in the world.
Our work was superbly supported by some of Canada’s finest civil servants from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Without their efforts, we could not have accomplished our task in the limited timeframe. We cannot thank them enough for their dedication to this project.
Canada’s quality education offerings can no longer be a well-kept secret.
Canada is the place to be for top talent.
Amit Chakma (chair)
President and Vice-Chancellor Western University
Chair of the Board, Centre for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations; Lead director, Transat A.T.; and Chancellor Emeritus, Université de Montréal
President and CEO Rio Tinto Alcan
President and Vice-Chancellor Saint Mary’s University
Director, Office of International Education, Mount Royal University
President, British Columbia Institute of Technology