Canada’s post-secondary schools urged to boost foreign student intake

Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island receive grade of B+

Ontario needs to improve its grades on international students and higher education partnerships to help students in the province as it struggles to cope with public pressure on the issue.

A report card issued by the federal office of international students and immigration last week gave the province an F for its efforts to market foreign education services to students and strengthen global relationships, grades which were the lowest among Canada’s 10 provinces and the capital territory.

On its closing grade, Ontario received a B+ for its priority action plan for 2020, which the federal agency has often praised for its efforts to promote international education. Ontario didn’t get a grade on its international student initiative or non-profit sector, which is projected to grow in the next five years to 460,000 students from 310,000.

The report, which sought to review Canada’s international student policy efforts from 2017 to 2020, also graded every province and the capital territory for the quality of its domestic and international students, the diversity of its post-secondary students, post-secondary research and the social and economic potential of post-secondary education in Canada.

It’s an update of the report that was first issued in 2003 and is considered the gold standard in Canada for assessing countries’ ability to manage international students.

“International education is extremely important in Canada,” said Gary Morris, the executive director of the Canadian Centre for International Education, which drafted the report. “Students from across the globe look at Canada as a national education destination.”

The top ten global education destinations to Canada in 2016 included the United States (29,692 students), the United Kingdom (27,922 students), and India (8,950 students).

The report lists key criticisms of Canada’s international education policies. Canada could be doing more to respond to questions from international students on language skills and the services available to them. It also thinks Canada could do more to increase the number of international students attending its post-secondary institutions and is recommending that Ontario develop a policy to raise awareness about post-secondary education in the province.

While Ontario didn’t get a grade on its post-secondary sector, it’s not outside the top three countries by international student numbers: the United States and the United Kingdom are second and third respectively, and United Arab Emirates is fifth.

The federal government has committed to investing $1.8bn over the next five years to support Canada’s university, college and technical institutions to attract up to 50,000 international students by 2025, up from 35,818 now. That’s on top of $600m in funding to post-secondary institutions over the same period to support graduating more Canadian students.

“Part of our government’s focus has been on building international partnerships to help us grow our global market share,” said Leona Aglukkaq, minister of public services and procurement, who made the announcement.

Saskatchewan, which has the most international students and the second most international education partnerships in Canada, received a grade of B+ for its priority action plan to work on strengthening global partnerships with countries such as China, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

The province still earned a C+ for its partnership with BRITISH Columbia University to increase recruitment of international students.

Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan also got C+ grades for their international education initiatives in this round. But Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, Ontario and Prince Edward Island each received grades of D+. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick got grades of C.

Last year, the federal government allotted a total of $3.6bn for Canadian post-secondary institutions, which it said were strong when compared to their competitors in Canada.

“We have set the bar very high for ourselves and how we could improve,” Morris said. “The government has shown it’s committed to international education, but we need them to keep on pushing on the right levels so that we grow the system in this country.”

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