Academic journal article Comparative and International Education

International Students as 'Ideal Immigrants' in Canada: A Disconnect between Policy Makers' Assumptions and the Voices of International Students/étudiants Internationaux En Tant Qu'« Immigrants Idéals » Au Canada : Une Déconnexion Entre Les Assomptions Des Décideurs De Politique et Les Expériences Vécues Des éTudiants Internationaux

Academic journal article Comparative and International Education

International Students as 'Ideal Immigrants' in Canada: A Disconnect between Policy Makers' Assumptions and the Voices of International Students/étudiants Internationaux En Tant Qu'« Immigrants Idéals » Au Canada : Une Déconnexion Entre Les Assomptions Des Décideurs De Politique et Les Expériences Vécues Des éTudiants Internationaux

Article excerpt

Introduction

International education allows for intercultural learning and networking and is a source of skilled labour when international students (IS) can be retained upon graduation and effectively integrated into the local labour market. In this paper, we argue that the impact of international education is dependent on the positive adjustment of IS to their new cultural setting. In Canada, the ever-increasing internationalization of business and trade, the need to fund post-secondary institutions amidst rising costs, and a projected shortage of skilled labour make international education a critical area for applied research. Ontario, as Canada's largest province, receives nearly half of all IS (Canadian Bureau for International Education, 2014), presenting an important case study for understanding the challenges and opportunities IS face when adjusting to life in Canada. A better understanding of the lived experiences of IS is of clear importance to policy makers in government, staff at post-secondary institutions, as well as IS themselves.

International education has become a competitive global industry with leading economies jockeying for position. As a result, leading and emerging economic leaders have all made substantive changes to their international education policies in the hopes of becoming more attractive destinations for foreign students (Schneider, 2000). In Canada, recent policy changes have emphasized IS recruitment and retention, making international education a key component of the government's economic strategy (Citizenship and Immigration Canada [CIC], 2013; Government of Canada, 2014). In the last two-and-a-half decades, the total number of foreign students studying in Canada has increased from 77,235 in 1988, to an all-time high of 328,672 in 2012; an increase of more than 325% (CIC, 2013). Government policy makers are currently embarking on an ambitious agenda to further increase the number of IS studying in Canada to over 450,000 by 2022 (Government of Canada 2014). For their part, the Canadian government is investing heavily in international education, crafting the country's first-ever International Education Strategy as a "blueprint to attract talent to Canada and prepare our country for the 21st century" (Government of Canada, 2014).

The rationale underlying recent policy changes toward international education is the assumption that upon graduation, IS make for 'ideal' immigrants as they are assumed to be adequately adjusted to Canadian society, having already undergone Canadian education and training (Government of Canada, 2014). Because of their Canadian post-secondary credentials, proficiency in at least one official language, and their relevant Canadian work experience, IS, relative to other classes of immigrants, are believed to integrate with less difficulty into the Canadian labour market (CIC, 2013; Government of Canada, 2014). This assumption has recently been contested in other IS-receiving countries. In Australia, for example, while IS graduates achieved comparable rates of labour market participation as other immigrants, IS graduates actually had lower salaries, lower job satisfaction and relied less frequently on their formal qualifications than other migrants (Hawthorne, 2010). Indeed, IS who were recruited to Australia on short, "two year courses" or in "oversubscribed fields" actually had worse outcomes than other migrants. In response to the relatively poorer adjustment of IS in Australia, between 2007 and 2011, the Australian government began to introduce major policy reforms to improve the outcomes of IS who apply under their skilled workers programs.

The success of Canada's international education policy is dependent on the integration and retention of IS. Guided by a framework of cross-cultural adaptation (Searle & Ward, 1990), this study employs thematic analysis of focus group data to explore the lived experiences of IS as they transition into the Canadian labour market at two post-secondary institutions popular among IS in the province of Ontario. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.