A new report is encouraging Canadian policymakers to double the number of international students over the next ten years to address looming labour shortages.
The report, commissioned by the Conservative government, recommends raising the number of international students in the country to 450,000 over the next decade if Canada wants to remain competitive in the global arena. Currently, there are approximately 240,000 international students entering Canada each year.
“Our larger institutions may not have as much capacity to take on [additional] international students … because they already have been recruiting aggressively” says Dr. AmitChakma, president of Western University and head of the task force that produced the report. “[B]ut there is a lot of potential room in our northern institutions and Western provinces.”
International students brought over $8 billion into Canada in 2010. They are also prime candidates for immigration, with Canadian education credentials boosting their employment prospects. Those who choose not to stay in Canada still have a tie to the country, and may act on those ties, either economically or politically, at some point in the future.
Despite these advantages, some experts are warning against the dangers of depending too much on international students.
“It’s dangerous to rely on international students to bring in income for Canadian universities, especially since India and China are expanding rapidly,” said the University of Calgary’s Dru Marshall. “We might not always have access to those students.”
Furthermore, the cost of marketing and accommodating international students can easily offset the income they bring with them into the country.
However, most still agree that there is an advantage to exposing Canadian students to cultures abroad, either by bringing those cultures here to them, or increasing funding for exchange programs that allow them to travel and study abroad themselves.
Source: Globe and Mail