Reason for Concern?: Recruiting, Retaining and Supporting International Students in Canada Sophia J. Lowe Retention 2009 New Orleans

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1 Reason for Concern?: Recruiting, Retaining and Supporting International Students in Canada Sophia J. Lowe Retention 2009 New Orleans

2 Outline Global race for international students Canadian context (immigrants and international students) Immigration shifts and changes for international students New challenges for international students and postsecondary institutions Australia s migration model and lessons to learn Persistent and arising challenges to success and retention of international students in Canada Inconclusive conclusions and questions 2

3 Global Race for International Students All countries are aggressively competing to attract and retain international students 2.7 million international students worldwide in 2004 In Australia, international students contribution to the economy reached $13.7 billion (2008) and is the third largest industry Canada has been following the lead of other countries in actively trying to attract and retain international students Canada dedicated $2 million to increasing Chinese and Indian student enrollments Designer Immigrants circumvent issues of credential recognition, social supports, language skills, adaptation, etc. 3

4 Canadian Context Ageing Canadian population & consistently low fertility rates By 2030, all population growth will be due to immigration Labour shortages in key sectors (high and low skill levels) - 1/3 of employers having trouble finding employees - 60% of small businesses said this is the biggest problem In Ontario, it is expected that there will be labour shortages of between 365,000 and 500,000 by 2020 By 2012, all of Canada s net labour market growth will come from immigration 4

5 Immigrants in Canada: Education and Labour Market Outcomes Immigrants in Canada are highly educated (70% have some post-secondary education) 80% 70% 60% 60% of immigrants are not able to find jobs in their intended occupations 50% 40% % of all immigrants In 2006, the unemployment rate of very recent university educated immigrants was four times that of the university educated Canadians 30% 20% 10% 0% % of working age 5

6 International Students in Canada In 2007, there were 233,971 international students in Canada, with 33.2% arriving to study in Ontario Largest numbers from Korea and China Recruitment and retention issues differ regionally In 2006, only a third of international students graduating from Canadian post-secondary institutions attempted to stay permanently In 2007, Toronto s Ryerson University conducted a survey and found that 87% of international students wanted to remain permanently 6

7 Shifting Immigration Policy in Canada To circumvent 200,000 persistent labour 180,000 market problems 160,000 of immigrants 140,000 Testing 120,000 Family immigrants/ 100,000 Two-Step 80,000 migration 60,000 Special focus on 40,000 retaining 20,000 international 0 student graduates CIC, 2009 Economic Refugees Temp. Workers Int'l Students 7

8 Canada s International Student Policy Changes Off Campus Work Permit and Post Graduation Work Permit Program changes Special Streams in Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) September 2008 Launch of Canadian Experience Class (CEC) CEC for international students: 1) Hold a post-secondary diploma or degree that required at least two years to complete 2) Have completed one year of recent full time employment in Canada at the NOC 0, A or B levels 3) Canadian Language Benchmarks (5 for NOC B and 7 for NOC 0 and A work experience) 4) Only full-time recent work experience after graduation counts 8

9 Potential Impact of the CEC and Student Retention If international students can immigrate, are they more likely to stay in school? Are they more invested in the process of education? OR: Are they more likely to be alienated in the school environment? Are they more at risk? Potentially large shift in the type of students arriving, their motivation for study and needs 9

10 Comparative Model: Australian Student Migration Australian immigration system changed in early 1990s to respond to the underemployment and unemployment of highly skilled immigrants Changes targeted the retention of international students as skilled immigrants directly from school. 88% of Australia s skilled migrants first arrive as international students (2006) Exponential increase in the number of international students since 2001 when they could apply for permanent residency without having to leave Australia first Struggles with a growing international education industry have arisen 10

11 Australian International Student Flows 100,000 90,000 80, Policy Changes 70,000 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10, China India Singapore South Korea Thailand Indonesia Brazil 11

12 Lessons from Australia Changing flows of students, large increases in numbers Findings from Australia show that there has been compromise in academic entry and standards, as well as immigration routes New programs and institutions catering to migration Employment outcomes barriers and lower salary levels for immigrants who came from international student streams persist (more than offshore applicants) In light of these concerns, Australia has placed importance on language abilities for international students (language testing since Sept 2007) 12

13 Challenges for International Students and Institutions in Canada Changing service needs, increasing adult immigrants and twostep migration More international students and the capacity to support them? Flows will change and their needs may be significantly different than previous cohorts of students Transition from school to work and survival jobs for international student graduates (but then not qualified for CEC) How to support students beyond institutions, during studies and after? 13

14 Settlement Support Services We know institutional, cognitive and social supports are critical to student engagement and retention Current service gaps for international students: 1) international students ineligible for regular settlement services outside of institutions 2) beyond most student service mandates to deal with immigration and settlement issues Permanent support needed : family, childcare, employment, housing, immigration, legal, etc 14

15 Inconclusive Conclusions International Students are entering Canada in greater numbers (potentially different student flows) Recent changes will allow many to remain in Canada Motivation for study and coming to Canada may change From academy to global business? Upholding academic integrity Shifting responsibilities for settlement onto institutions (support needed for long-term student engagement and persistence) Dependence on export education? (recession, student numbers and graduates finding work) Alignment of education and migration policy ensuring academic standards are upheld and international students and graduates are successful 15

16 Questions? Sophia J Lowe Research & Policy Analyst World Education Services 16

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