Outsourcing Education by Importing Students

Ottawa Aims to Boost International Students from Six Priority Regionshttp://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-aims-to-boost-international-students-from-six-key-countries/article16344061/ – James Bradshaw

I appreciate that our institutions need to be desirable for international students. I appreciate that Canada and our institutions of higher learning need to remain competitive on the world stage. I can even accept that it’s worth spending a bit of money to do this. What boggles my mind is that less than a year ago, this was the headline:

Canadian Universities Feel the Squeeze of Spending Cuts: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/canadian-universities-feel-the-squeeze-of-spending-cuts/article9582355/ – also James Bradshaw

Now, what type of learning environment are we going to be inviting these international students to participate in? Exactly how are we going to market our under-funded institutions to international students? I can’t help wonder if their strategy might be a bit backward, although I appreciate that the not-so-subtle intention is to help our under-funded institutions by having more international students paying several times the tuition fees of Canadian students.

I must note here that the government announcement today was Federal, while the operating grant cuts to institutions like the Uniersity of Alberta were provincial. However, both are directed at the same institutions.

I would hazard a guess that it would make more sense to market well-funded, high-quality education to international students. It also might not hurt to support Canadian students, who can then go out into the world with a first-class education and make a difference – and probably bring back some economic prosperity, to boot.

Perhaps I am business-challenged. When I hear that the government “will spend $5 million annually on education marketing abroad,” I wonder what that kind of funding that would have meant for Canadian students. I also wonder how beneficial that funding would have been if put back into our research institutions. I think it would be wonderful marketing, and a pretty good PR move, for the government to fund world-class research in Canada. A breakthrough in any number of fields provides it’s own kind of marketing, probably international in these days of instant communication, and leads not only to increased recognition, but could also ripple outward far more easily than a poster on a bus in one of the six specific regions the government is targeting.

Just a few thoughts…

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2 responses to “Outsourcing Education by Importing Students

  1. I totally agree Sean. International students pay 2.5 times the tuition that Canadian students do so it is lucrative for institutions to have as many international students as possible. At NAIT we have a maximum (10% of our enrolment I believe) that can be international students. There are other financial benefits to educational institutes as well. English as an Additional Language (formerly ESL) programs also bring in a lot of money from international students. These programs often run during the summer which helps fill empty classroom with international students taking the necessary English equivalence courses.

  2. Thanks Carrie. Sorry for the delay in my reply. I think a maximum enrollment is important. Not to keep international students from joining our institutions but simply to ensure that local students have an opportunity.

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