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The Canadian Council for Education recently published a new report that analyzes the possible impact of the competition for international students on Canadian education at the national and international level.

International students contribute an estimated $6.5 billion to Canada annually. Once ranked in the top 5 destinations for foreign students, Canada has fallen in the past few years to the 14th position. Reasons for this fall include absence of a federal ministry of education, limited government support and a lack of coherence in Canadian missions abroad.

As a result, Canada is now lagging far behind its main competitors, the US, the UK and Australia. In 2008, in an attempt to help Canada retrieve its 3rd position in international rankings, the Deputy Ministers of Education in all ten provinces and the Canadian Minister of International Trade launched the Pan-Canadian Education Brand, based on promoting Canadian educational excellence abroad. In a new report entitled “Branding Canadian Higher Education”, the Canadian Council for Education analyzes the dangers of competing for international students in an underfunded educational system.

The dangers of competing for international students The report warns against the fixation over occupying a top-tier position in the international post-secondary educational market. Focusing on international prospects may lead Canada to face Australia’s current problems, i.e. its reliance on international students to bring funding to replace ever dwindling government funds. This focus may also force educational institutions to make aesthetic and student-based choices at the expense of the Pan-Canadian Education Brand’s promise of excellence. The report also highlights the danger of overlooking disadvantaged students at home who have been deprived of international experience in the course of their university education. The report recommends:

  • avoiding measures based on ranking schemes
  •  increasing public investment in public post-secondary system
  • encouraging Canadian students to have international educational experiences.

How can Canada keep competing for international students without further damaging its own educational system? Read the report here To get a glimpse of the future of international higher education, read this great interview with Ben Wildavsky, author of “The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities are reshaping the world” here.