Canada aims to double international students

16 January, 2014

Canada is seeking to attract 450,000 international students worth CAN$16.1 billion in expenditure by 2022, as part of an international education strategy that will focus on six key markets, the Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast, announced yesterday.

Canada’s new international education strategy

Unveiled during an event at Ryerson University, Canada’s International Education Strategy: Harnessing our knowledge advantage to drive innovation and prosperity also outlines plans to deepen research links and attract international researchers, establish a pan-Canadian partnership with provinces, territories and stakeholders and develop Canada’s international education brand.

The strategy will focus resources and efforts on priority markets that align with Canada’s broader Global Markets Action Plan: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, the MENA region and Vietnam. While China and India are already established as major source countries for Canada, data in the strategy shows that Brazil (1.1 per cent), Mexico (1.9) and Vietnam (1.3) constituted relatively small shares of the long-term (six months plus) international student population in 2012.

 “At the same time Canada must maintain the advantage it currently enjoys in international education in countries such as France, the UK, the USA, Germany, Korea and Japan,” said Fast in his foreword to the strategy.

A new “refreshed” brand will be developed, building on the work of the Imagine Canada Education au/in Canada brand, with plans tailored to each priority market, all marketing materials customised to resonate in each market and improved coordination of marketing efforts between stakeholders.

Other elements detailed in the strategy’s performance measurement section include: the development of innovative programmes for both mature and emerging markets; leveraging Canada’s bilingual identity in marketing efforts; increasing Canada’s share of the international francophone market; and the strengthening of in-market support for education partners through increased market intelligence.

Addressing visa processing, which suffered delays during 2013 due to embassy staff strikes, Fast promised additional support: “To facilitate the entry of international students and researchers into Canada, our government also commits to providing the funding necessary to maintain reasonable timelines for processing temporary-resident visas in the face of increasing demand, particularly from priority markets.”

The strategy was produced after a two-year consultation process, during which an advisory panel engaged with territorial partners and education stakeholders. Fast said the inclusive approach would benefit the country. “By striking a panel of eminent Canadians to advise us, by working closely with key stakeholders every step of the way, and by developing a plan that will align our efforts with those of our provincial and territorial partners and members of the international education community, we are ensuring that Canada stays ahead of the curve in a global environment that is fiercely competitive.”

According to government estimates, the target of 450,000 students by 2022 would create at least 86,500 new jobs, see international student expenditure rise to over CAN$16.1 billion and generate CAN$910 million in new tax revenues.

“As a key component of Canada’s new Global Markets Action Plan, the strategy will also help us advance Canada’s commercial interests in priority markets around the world and ensure that we maximise the people-to-people ties that help Canadian workers, businesses and world-class educational institutions achieve real success in the largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing economies in the world,” said Fast.

In terms of investment, ongoing funding of CAN$5 million will be dedicated to supporting the strategy, while CAN$13 million will be provided over two years to the Globalink programme of Mitacs, an organisation that fosters research, training and student mobility.

“This strategy is definitely a milestone for our sector,” said Karen McBride, President and CEO of the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) and Chair of the Canadian Consortium for International Education (CCIE), which consists of associations including Languages Canada and Caps-I .

“We are pleased that the Canadian government understands the economic and societal contributions of international education to many priority areas, including trade, research, labour market development, as well as strengthening Canada’s relationships with its partner countries around the world,” McBride said.

The full strategy can be accessed here.

At the time of writing, CAN$1 = US$.091

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