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Recruiting Intelligence

Canada's Competitive Advantage


At Intead Insights we consistently analyze the global competition for qualified, tuition-paying international students.

Canada is a successful contender in this global competition. The recently published report A World of Learning: Canada’s Performance and Potential in International Education demonstrates the Canadian determination to become an even strong player in this arena. The report provides a critical analysis of international student satisfaction with their experience in Canada. It also looks at the perceptions of discrimination international students feel in Canada. Finally, the report develops a set of recommendations on how to address the issues discussed.

Last year, we noted the increasingly positive reputation of Canadian institutions among recruiting agents. This year's ICEF/i-Graduate Barometer confirmed the positive trend. Today we thought we'd highlight just a few of the plans and activities the Canadian authorities and education institutions intend to undertake.

The number of international students in Canada has almost doubled over the last decade, from 136,000 to 265,000. As the international student population in Canada attending secondary schools, language schools, and post-secondary institutions (e.g. colleges, polytechnics and universities) increases, monitoring the student experience helps confirm that desired outcomes are being realized for students and the institutions. And if those outcomes are not being achieved, these metrics help everyone adjust.

Similar to recent UK and Australian reports on the same subject, the Canadian report points out a comprehensive approach to international student recruitment supporting international recruitment for high schools, language schools and pathway programs.

The Canadian government proposed three significant rule changes around international student job opportunities:

  1. A study permit holder at a public post-secondary institution would be automatically entitled to work off campus (no need to apply for a work permit and no waiting period).
  2. Applications for an initial study permit would be allowed within Canada rather than being acquired by going to another country or returning home to apply.
  3. A specific set of vocationally-oriented career colleges (the equivalent of US community colleges) will be permitted to obtain visas for international students. These institutions will become new entrants into the field of international student recruitment.

These positive changes will improve Canada's academic recruiting potential in the future as international students increasingly focus on career opportunities.

Although the aim of this Canadian study was to take a closer look at the issue of discrimination experienced by international students in Canada, it is important to remember that overall, the majority of survey respondents agreed that:

  • Canada is a welcoming and tolerant society (82%),
  • They were satisfied or very satisfied with their international experience (91%), and
  • They would probably or definitely recommend Canada as a study destination (96%).

It is important to understand that discrimination in other top receiving countries is reported by approximately one-third of international students (SVR Research Unit, 2012, Brown and Jones, 2011, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, 2010). This, coupled with the results of the present study, suggest that discrimination is a global and societal issue affecting all major receiving countries to some degree. In the present study, the fact that discrimination was experienced less often during interactions with institutional faculty and staff, and more often in the wider community, suggests that a broader societal issue is affecting students. The report also addresses study abroad for Canadian students and how to improve these experiences.

Below, we offer a summary of the recommendations from the Canadian report. In our view, these recommendations are valid for academic institutions in other countries including the US:

  • Offer activities that facilitate international and domestic student integration and interaction
  • Promote pedagogical techniques that enhance international student participation
  • Provide additional supports for educators and international students
  • Develop widespread intercultural training programs and campaigns
  • Increase scholarship and employment opportunities for international students
  • Ensure that international students are aware of their rights and have access to protection from discrimination

Topics: Insights