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Jennifer Humphries: 'Canada is a welcoming, multicultural and safe environment'

CBIE's Jennifer Humphries explains why so many international students are drawn to Canada

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Canada is an increasingly popular study and work destination for internaitonal students. We took the opportunity to ask Jennifer Humphries, Vice-President, Membership, Public Policy and Communications for the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), about how the country is attracting these students.


Enrolments at Canadian universities surpassed 2 million in 2013-14 led by a growth in international students. What is driving this growth? 

We have across-the-board quality driven by rigorous education ministry oversight in our provinces and territories and research support from federal government level through the granting councils. We also have terrific language education – as a bilingual country we have developed superior expertise in this realm. K-12 education is also strong and many international students aiming at post-secondary education in Canada begin here with grades 11 and 12.


Added to the academic aspect is our brand as a welcoming, multicultural and safe environment. Canada’s openness to work during studies and post-graduation employment for international students is also much appreciated and CBIE’s surveys show 95% satisfaction rates with the Canadian education and social experience – we’re pretty sure that’s among the world’s highest.


What do you hope the new Canadian government can bring to international education in the country? 


The new Canadian government is highly youth oriented. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has retained the role of Minister of Youth for himself, suggesting the importance he attaches to this file. The government has signalled that it will be highly engaged in world issues and affairs. CBIE hopes that the government will see the critical importance of engaging young Canadians in international affairs and its own role in championing this and making it possible for greater numbers of our students to undertake educational experiences abroad.


At the same time we hope that the government will reinforce support to inbound students and continue to facilitate study, scholarships, and work opportunities for them. 


What’s next for CBIE? 


CBIE is dedicated to broadening access to internationalised learning opportunities for students, inbound and outbound, and to increasing the connections between Canadian and international educational institutions. We are naturally collaborative and we plan to work closely with government and with our sister associations in Canada and abroad in support of our goals.


We will certainly be engaging deeply with our membership across the country, which includes K-12 school districts, colleges, institutes, universities and language schools, to help enhance their internationalisation efforts. We have some great ideas and we know that our members and partners do too. To build global citizens able to engage effectively with world issues, we all need to work together.


At CBIE’s 49th annual conference, held in November in Niagara Falls, our theme was “Global Engagement: Crossing Borders, Connecting Generations.” This theme resonated with participants, and speakers rang the changes – some focusing on the imperative of student mobility or on internationalization at home, and others on the preparing the next generation of leaders in international education.


In a think piece for the conference, Sheila Embleton of CBIE’s senior advisers group, a professor at York University in Toronto, stated “To be prepared to live well and responsibly in this current and future world, education must include engagement, not just fleeting exposure, to multiple perspectives on inescapable global problems.” That’s our ambition for the coming year and beyond: getting many more and ideally all our students poised to participate fully and responsibly in the world.


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