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Renewing Canada’s IES - Thematic papers: Building and strengthening alumni networks

Published on March 1, 2023


Canada is home to some of the world's top educational institutions, attracting students from across the globe. Many students who graduate from Canadian institutions decide to stay enjoying pathways that lead to Permanent residency. Others decide to return to their home countries or move elsewhere. However, these alumni remain valuable assets to Canada and can serve as ambassadors and advocates for the country.

The Government of Canada is exploring how to best create an alumni network that connects with graduated students now living abroad — an opportunity that many other countries have already taken advantage of.

The current approach in Canada

Since the advent of the use of social media for business and networking, many Facebook, LinkedIn and online groups, either managed or with representation from Global Affairs Canada’s missions abroad, have sprung up organically, but with no formal guidance documents or consistent approaches.

The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and Universities Canada hosted the Canada-in-Asia Conference, for Canada-connected individuals, businesses, and institutions across Asia, held in Singapore February 21-23, 2023.

International best practices

Following a recommendation in the 2019 Tailored Review of the British Council to take a more structured approach to its alumni activity, the British Council is exploring options for attracting and supporting a global UK alumni network. In 2022, they launched Alumni UK a digital platform that enables sign-on and facilitate networking. Promotional assets under the banner ‘Alumni UK’ were produced. Upon logging in to the platform, we see that over 1,600 alumni have joined, however there is little discussion or engagement occurring. Further activities in priority countries and wider promotions are being planned for 2023, aligning with Study UK alumni activity where relevant. The annual Study UK Alumni Awards will run again. Last year they attracted over 1,500 applicants, with ceremonies in 23 countries. They are also hosting a live event titled: Join us at Alumni UK Live: your professional development festival on March 27-31, 2023.

Australia has formal ambassador programs and alumni networks to attract and retain international students. The sector will deliver activities that connect their alumni with Australia. The government and the sector will showcase alumni as ambassadors for Australian education. The government will promote alumni relations through the Australian Government’s overseas diplomatic network (

Germany is developing modules to finance continuing education measures for specialists targeting international alumni and cultivate a life-long bond with Germany.

Supporting an alumni network through the International Education Strategy

By focusing on alumni abroad, GAC can build relationships with individuals who have a deep understanding of Canadian education and culture, as well as connections to international markets. These alumni can act as links or a foot in the door within global companies, opening things up for commercial opportunities. Alumni can also help GAC achieve its diplomatic objectives.

Alumni networks can be leveraged and expanded or amalgamated, perhaps via a Web 3 community which would increase transparency and reduce spam.

An extensive plan will be developed in collaboration with Global Affairs Canada mission staff and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. A best practice guide for missions will be developed along with a toolkit of digital assets to help with setup and promotion.

Accessing alumni lists can be challenging, however a number of online tools that scrape public data can be used.  Internal lists including alumni of GAC’s International Scholarships programs (recipients of awards such as the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program). At present, over 800 international students avail themselves of Global Affairs Canada scholarships every year, can be encouraged to join a Global Alumni Network, upon graduation, in addition to their institution’s network.

GAC will launch a pilot with an initial set of 10 missions.


  • What are some best practices on keeping track of alumni you have had success with?
  • What online tools for engaging with alumni should we consider using?
  • What are some other ways alumni can be leveraged to advance Canada’s interests?
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