Friday, November 30, 2012

International Education is critical to Canada’s future

What I told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on behalf of Canadian Bureau for International Education


On November 19 I had the honor to address the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, to champion the need for a stronger commitment to international education at a federal level.

I’d like to share what I said, since the subject is important to everyone at Douglas College, where international education is a key strategic theme and where we have about 1,000 international students this year.

Douglas College President Scott McAlpine CBIE

Making CBIE's presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, in Ottawa on November 19, 2012. (On my right is Karen Cohen, CEO of the Canadian Psychological Association, also presenting to the Committee.)


I spoke to the Committee as a board member of Canadian Bureau for International Education. CBIE has 150 member institutions across Canada, including Douglas, covering the education spectrum from K to 12 through to post-graduate.

Key message to the federal government

The essence of what I told the Committee on behalf of CBIE is this:

Canada is well positioned to take a leadership role in International Education AND this will require a substantial, sustained investment.

That statement is aligned with the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy. That panel, established by the Hon. Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and the Hon. Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, submitted its final report in August 2012. It urged Canadians to embrace the benefits of international education and it tied those benefits directly to Canada’s prosperity. CBIE supports all of the Panel’s recommendations.

Developing global citizenship

CBIE believes the two-way mobility of students is critical to Canada’s future. We should invest to make Canada more attractive to top talent from abroad. And we should invest to prepare our citizens to succeed in a global society and marketplace. This is about global citizenship and not merely global competence.

So we’re talking about investing in our economy and in our youth, who are the leaders of tomorrow. And we’re talking about developing the labour force that can ensure our country’s prosperity.

Opportunity to capture bigger share of expanding market

Internationally mobile students are already a significant resource for Canada. In 2010, they spent $7.7 billion here, making education services our 11th largest export. Education is our single largest export to China.

In BC, international education is the fourth largest export, and moving quickly to third.

With a 5% share of international students, Canada ranks seventh among destination countries. By way of comparison, Australia, a country in many ways similar to Canada, is in fourth place with a 7% share.

The OECD predicts that the number of international students will grow from 4.1 million in 2010 to 7.2 million in 2025. By moving quickly and boldly, Canada can capture a bigger share of this expanding market.

We also need to invest in order to provide more Canadian students with international opportunities. Today, just 3% of university students and 1.1% of college students participate in exchange programs.

Compare this to Germany, where 33% of university students participate in exchanges.

In October, Australia committed C$38.5 million for its Asia Bound Grant Program, which will help 10,000 students undertake work/study periods in Asian countries.

In 2011, Brazil announced its Science without Borders Program, which aims to send over 100,000 students to study abroad in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by 2015.

Targets for inbound and outbound students

In terms of targets, I told the Standing Committee on Finance that CBIE supports the recommendations of the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy.

The Panel set a target of doubling the number of international students in Canada by 2022, to 450,000 students. It also recommended creation of an International Mobility Program to serve 50,000 Canadian students by 2022.

And the Panel urged that a more competitive scholarship environment be created to send and receive outbound and inbound students.

CBIE asked the Committee to consider increasing the Federal Government’s investment in international education from $5 million per year to $25 million within the next three years. A significant portion should go toward enhancing our current scholarship offer, and providing more Canadians with opportunities for international experiences.

If you’re interested, the complete notes to my presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance on behalf of CBIE is included with this post.

--Scott

CBIE Presentation to Standing Committee on Finance Nov 19 2012

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