By: April Luesby
Canada’s international student population has just surpassed 100,000, according to the federal government.
This news is not only significant for Canada, but also for Algonquin.
Ernest Mulvey, director of the International Education Centre said there is more than just an economic impact for Canada – with the students being here and paying tuition, living in Canada, renting and being consumers. He said that there is also a long-term relationship that the international students may develop with Canadian students.
“That contact and understanding of Canada benefits Canada,” Mulvey said. “We’re assuming that they come, they have a great experience, and they go back with a very positive attitude about Canada and its brand in the world.”
That allows for international students to become representatives for Canada in their home countries said Mulvey.
“About 50 per cent of international students stay in Canada and immigrate to Canada,” said Mulvey. “There are upcoming labour shortages that are being predicted Canada-wide as baby boomers retire… we don’t see that yet but we have to plan for the future and that is happening, and international students who choose to remain in Canada are ideally suited to be successful.” The students that remain here can easily become successful with their Canadian credential and the roots they’d already developed in Canada after being students here. They also have the Canadian friends within their studies that help them become integrated into the work life much quicker.
“The students themselves bring a different perspective to the classroom,” said Mulvey. “It’s the internationalization of our college and university life so that students have a greater chance now to interact with students from other countries.”
The growing number of international students is certainly of economic benefit to Algonquin, said Mulvey.
“It brings additional revenue to Algonquin College that helps to pay for services that all Algonquin College students benefit from. We have an infrastructure and an environment set up to serve so many students and one way to maintain that student number is to have international students come and benefit from our quality programming, and it becomes a win-win situation for everyone.”
The top five countries that international students come to Algonquin College to study from are India, China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. The most popular programs for these students include English as a second language for international students, business administration, hotel and restaurant hospitality management, robotics and accounting.
“International students don’t participate in highly competitive programs for the most part,” said Mulvey. “Programs that are of high demand among Canadian students or Ontario and Ottawa students are more or less off bounds to international students because we can’t take a seat from someone from Ottawa and give it to an international student. So for the most part, seats are made available to international students in programs of study that have capacity.”
Colleges do have a harder time with recruiting international students due to the bias towards university, Mulvey said.
“When they hear College, they often think of a community college in the United States.” International students don’t think of an institution like Algonquin that offers degrees and advanced certificates or graduate certificates when applying.
The IEC has many authorized representatives that work overseas and recruit through embassy trade and education shows and fairs. They visit colleges and universities with a focus on high school. They also recruit through third party websites where students contact the website and inform Algonquin College, and the IEC follows up with recruitment.
“The IEC is tasked with international marketing and international student enrolment,” said Mulvey. “We have a recruitment team whose sole job is to liaise with fairs, agents, other types of organizations to promote Algonquin College and attract students to Algonquin College.”