Canadian Immigration and Education: A New Approach Is Needed

By Andy Semotiuk | June 20, 2014

Toronto immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk: This week, an article in Maclean’s took a look at a side of immigration that doesn’t get a lot of press: education.

The article examined a report which says Canada isn’t doing itself any favours when it comes to attracting students to Canadian schools:

As the battle intensifies to woo foreign students to western universities, a new report says Canada is a roadblock to its own success.

One of the reasons Canada—with 120,000 international students—trails countries such as England, with 427,000, and Australia, with almost 250,000 (all numbers from a 2011 UNESCO report ), is the lack of a unified brand to promote itself, according to the report released Tuesday by the Council of Chief Executives and the Canadian International Council. That’s because the provinces have sole jurisdiction over education; Canada is the only developed country without a national education ministry.

“This puts us at a disadvantage in that everyone chooses to go their own way,” says Bernard Simon, author of the report and a former Financial Times correspondent in Canada. “People know about Canada. They don’t know about Nova Scotia, they don’t know about the University of Manitoba.”

I believe what is missing in Canada is a two-pronged, coordinated approach to international studies:

a) There should be a coordinated recruitment of foreign students to come to “Canadian” universities as a whole. This effort should be led by a federal and provincial team using a recruitment system that highlights the benefits of a Canadian education, without necessarily pinpointing which college or university a person should choose. And:
b) A coordinated effort to promote studying abroad for Canadian students who can learn about other countries and then bring their knowledge home to help Canada compete in the global marketplace.
The key is to understand we are in a global competition with other countries to recruit the youngest and brightest minds in the world. Our livelihood and future economic success is at stake.

Andy Semotiuk is a Canadian and US immigration lawyer with immigration law firm Pace Immigration. You can learn more about Andy at My Work Visa.