Another Prof’s Response to the Throne Speech

One prof suggests that the doors were flung open to international students previously, at least at specific colleges:

Well, “been there, done that” and still do. I hope someone with more expertise than I can address the past and present pros and cons of Ontario colleges “hosting” international students.

From my recollection, during the mid-’80s to mid-’90s our College’s catch basin was the Middle-East (eg: UAE and Saudi Arabia), and targeted enrollment for various engineering programs. The second source of serious marketing dollars was for students in Japan, to offer them ESL courses and a “North American” experience. In general I will just say that it was all more hassle than it was worth: extra staffing, marketing, travel, finding host accommodations, cultural, language and religious obstacles, trying to “fix” or calm students’ unmet expectations (no, this is not like Harvard /pictures do make some places look better, etc…).  Perhaps with today’s communication technology some crises would be sorted out prior to signing up, however it seems to me that the cost-benefit ratio for improving anything for our own students just isn’t there, never was and never will be. Instead of rushing to dust off a broken-wheel design, the government needs to dust off all the reports, studies, inquiries, etc… on what needs improving in the current system AND GET THEIR BUTTS IN GEAR to look after “our kids” first. An influx of (perceived) cash is not always the answer, but rather just means more silos fighting for their little chunk.

This does raise a reasonable question: Which programs would need to make the most changes to accommodate an influx of international students, and how would they be guaranteed adequate funding to make the necessary changes?

I’m not entirely pessimistic about opening the doors to more international students, or even courting them.  I just think that the profit margins for the colleges might be lower than McGuinty thinks, and might even be negligible, if schools are expected to undertake or contribute to promotional efforts.

However, the residual benefits of international students for the provincial students are very real, and are worthy of consideration — for that reason, it would strike me as being sensible for the province to invest significant new funding for the maintenance, improvement, and expansion of the system (including its programs and instructional centres), so as to make sure that the space exists for those students as well as our own.

Within an adequately-funded system, international students could insert money into the province’s economy, to widespread benefit, even if they don’t represent pure profit for the schools or pure savings for the Ministry.  Continued underfunding, on the other hand, will make it harder to attract, educate, or retain those students, and might therefore  limit the benefits of their presence to either the schools or the province.


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