Staying on the up
Tertiary Focus
The attraction of Canada as a destination for tertiary-level studies is continuing on an upward trajectory, reports Jane Vernon Smith.

The positive regulatory environment is just one of several factors fuelling an increase in international students. According to Arkadiy Zhidelev, Manager, International Recruitment & Market Development at Fanshawe College in London, ON, the college has almost doubled its number of international students in the past two years alone, and has experienced growth in almost all major markets. The number of nationalities represented has risen from 69 to 77, while it has also seen significant growth from South Asia as a result of more favourable immigration policies for those wanting to settle in Ontario outside of the Greater Toronto area.

Arkadiy reports that other factors influencing this rise include "great employment opportunities in London compared to other big cities in Canada; cheap living costs; and the variety of the programmes at Fanshawe that directly lead into the labour market or highly ranked universities to complete their degrees". He notes that university pathway programmes are rising in popularity among international students, as well as postgraduate certificate programmes.

University Canada West (UCW), meanwhile, continues to capitalise on its strength in business programmes, as well as the advantage of its "superb location in the heart of downtown Vancouver", observes President and Vice-Chancellor, Arthur Coren. Thanks to these strengths, the university has seen its international enrolments more than double in the past 24 months, and is already on track for another significant increase in this calendar year, he reports. This has been driven by applications from both South America and Africa, and is in part, he says, a reflection of "the extraordinary appeal of Vancouver as a destination". He adds, "With the recent change in the US government, we have also fielded more enquiries from south of the border - but it's a trickle, as opposed to a flood."

Feroz Ali, Chairman and President at Asia-Pacific Education, notes that Canada, unlike some other countries, applies different policies to private, as against public, institutions, and schemes, such as the Student Participation Programme (SPP) and work rights, which puts private institutions at a comparative disadvantage. Nevertheless, he says that despite this, its Canadian Tourism College (CTC) had a good year in 2016, with international student numbers steadily rising.

One factor helping boost international enrolments is a partnership with regional public institutions. As Feroz explains, students will generally study for their first year at CTC and then continue their studies towards a two-year diploma or an undergraduate degree at a partner institution, allowing them to access the postgraduate visa scheme. Another recent CTC initiative is the acquisition of an English language school, Stewart College, which will provide a pathway programme for students wanting to move on to CTC. At the end of the day, comments Feroz, "[students] are looking for programmes that will enable them to gain decent employment and, should they wish to remain in Canada, a path to residency".

In order to meet the increased demand from students and to build it further still, both Fanshawe and UCW are also proactively engaged in various initiatives. Fanshawe is currently building a new campus in central London to provide a home for some of its IT and hospitality programmes. As Arkadiy explains, this is in order to bring the courses closer to where relevant employers who are looking to recruit young people are located.

UCW has several new programmes, either ongoing or pending approval, which it hopes will match the success of its English for Academic Purposes courses that it launched a two years ago for students with an IELTS score of between 5.0 and 6.0. "These have been very successful at preparing students for subsequent academic work, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive," Arthur remarks.

As he points out, the Canadian federal government and many provincial governments are strongly promoting international education opportunities. It is up to tertiary providers, he says, "to truly deliver a sound education and a top-notch educational experience. These students are our future ambassadors - and many of them are also future Canadian citizens!"




Student work placements

The growing international interest in Canadian tertiary education, particularly in courses involving a co-op (work experience) component, is reflected at Vancouver-based work placement agency, Stepwest, where Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Prieur, reports that the majority of students they deal with are internationals.

Stepwest manages the co-op programmes of around 10 private and public career colleges and universities in Vancouver, ensuring their compliance with the recently introduced PTA (Private Training Agreement), as well as providing their students with co-op placements with suitable host companies and monitoring their experience throughout.

While hospitality and business remain two of the most popular sectors, students are requesting more and more opportunities with tech companies, says Thomas. "A lot of start-ups or even very established tech companies (Microsoft, Slack, Hootsuite, etc.) have offices in Vancouver, and, as such, international students are looking at tech as an opportunity to be involved in a fast growing industry."



Dr Arthur Coren, President and Vice-Chancellor, University Canada West
"Agents play an important role in our recruitment efforts. We continue to simultaneously enlist more agents, while paring back on those with low success rates or high visa rejection rates. It's interesting that you can have two agents in the same market and the quality of students and overall success rates can differ drastically. We're looking for students that want to be here, have the academic skills to succeed, and will work hard to complete."


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