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Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Volume 9, Issue 30; September 8, 2010

Let’s Go Canada

Canada finally waking up to the opportunity at hand.

The Edge

Immigration Minister points in wrong direction

Abroad Perspective

Strengthening Relations: Chinese students head to Taiwan.

Globe Tipping

Minimizing cell phone issues while abroad.

1) LET’S GO CANADA – Canada finally waking up to the opportunity at hand.

This year, 2010, has seen major changes in the realm of international university student recruitment.

With a series of high-profile attacks against Indian students in Australia, compounded by a recent study that raised concerns over the level of education available across that country (where, according to the study findings, almost a fifth of private universities are little more than “permanent residency factories”), the resulting drop in international student enrollment numbers has led to devastating effects. With international student tuitions – a $13 billion a year industry – formerly ranking as the nation’s third largest source of foreign income, the sizeable drop in numbers is resulting in huge losses across the board.

In the US and the UK, tightening visa rules (not to mention ever stricter security procedures) are likewise affecting the eagerness (and ability) of potential international student applicants to study on these long sought-after shores. As a result, many students are left looking for alternative options elsewhere.

And in Canada, it seems, leaders are finally waking up to the opportunity at hand. With early 2010 seeing a concentrated effort by both the Ontario and federal governments in announcing newly relaxed regulations for work permits (thereby easing the pathway to not only post-graduation careers but also permanent residency in Canada), all the ingredients seem finally to be in place to attract heightened attention from international students – as well as international student graduates (ie: much-in-demand skilled labour) looking for career starts in a good environment.

“Canada is more tolerant, safer and to be very honest, far more welcoming to people of diverse backgrounds [than other countries],” says Ramesh Thakur, a Political Science professor at the University of Waterloo, who has also worked as a consultant to the Australian and New Zealand governments on international security issues. “The Canadian system of learning ranks amongst the finest in the world — and this is probably our best kept secret.”
So now the question is, how can Canada get the word out?

To discuss this along with other issues and common challenges facing the world of international student recruitment, the publishers of Overseas, Overwhelmed hold a day-long seminar in downtown Toronto later this month. To find out more about the September 20th event, or to register yourself for it, visit – or contact Cheryl Ramage via email or telephone: or +1.416.461.1570.

Source: “Attracting the best and brightest”. National Post, June 7, 2010.

2) “THE EDGE” – Immigration Minister points in wrong direction

Canada’s immigration minister is in India this week, asking that country to get tough on crooked consultants fuelling immigration and visa fraud to Canada.
Some advice for his Indian minister counterpart. Ask Mr. Kenney what he’s doing about “the source” of the problem.

There are dozens, probably hundreds, of Canadian institutions, public and private, colleges and universities – engaging the crooks abroad. They contract with them. They promote them. They pay them. Are those institutions just naive back in Canada? Not quite, though the lack of due diligence does speak to incompetence. But really, it’s more a case of keeping eyes closed and just counting their money collected from foreigners paying tuition fees.

“In Chandigarh, in our consulate there, we have a ‘wall of shame’ with some examples of the thousands of fraudulent documents that are generated by this industry,” Kenney told the Globe and Mail. What’s Kenney going to do about the Canadian public universities and colleges who hire these industry crooks?
The Globe and Mail gets its wrong when it leads its front page story with “the Harper government going straight to the source of most of Canada¹s immigration to attack fraud in the system.” In more than a dozen years of working in the industry and writing about visa fraud, I’ve never seen mainstream Canadian media ask the tough questions back home of is own publicly-funded institutions. It’s one of those wide-open stories just begging for a reporter to walk in and start poking about.

I remember well a Visa Manager in New Delhi telling me they caught an education agent red-handed supplying fraud documents for its student visa applicants to Canada. “We called in the Indian authorities to have the agent arrested,” he told me. “But then we get a call from the public institution in Canada telling us to lay off our agent!” Probing further, I was told there was no political will or courage to have an elected Canadian government official take on a large institution in his own constituency.

Hopefully Minister Kenney can turn his tough talk inwards and lead to tough action in his own country.

3) ABROAD PERSPECTIVE – Strengthening Relations: Chinese students head to Taiwan.

The recent passing of a controversial new law signifies the start of a new era of increased exchange for Taiwanese universities – with around 2,000 new Chinese students set to be enrolled at the island’s institutions within the next academic year.

With relations between Taiwan and Mainland China continuously tense, such opportunities help to create better understanding between the two nations, and encourage more positive exchanges in the future.

Predictably enough, not everyone considers it a good decision. Opponents of the new law fear that an influx of students from the mainland could lead to fewer university placements – and fewer jobs – for Taiwanese in the future. Or, some have even ventured to suggest, lead to security risks down the road.

In a discussion for Radio Australia late last month, University of Pennsylvania International Relations Professor Arthur Waldron spoke about the possible implications – as well as student reactions – that may come out of such a ground-breaking “cultural experiment”.

“I think this is a two-edged sword,” Waldron says, “because the PRC [People’s Republic of China] will obviously hope that its students will come and transform the Taiwanese and show an example of what true Chineseness is. Obviously…the Chinese students will closely supervise one another, but on the other hand, I think it is not unrealistic at all for Taiwan to think that to have these students come from China into an environment which is very Chinese in many ways, yet very different from what they have come from … [the students will realize that] this is a free country, it has free speech, free debate.” 
“It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens when you have a significant number of students, some from China, most from Taiwan … We’re talking about 2,000 out of some 200,000 students in Taiwan, sitting in the same classrooms, engaging in the much more heated sort of argument and discussion that you get in the Taiwanese classroom and so forth. I think this is potentially a very positive development.”

Source: “Taiwan controversy over Chinese students”. Radio Australia, August 20, 2010.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Minimizing cell phone issues while abroad.

Keeping in ‘phone-touch’ while abroad (without racking up huge hotel phone bill charges from dialling internationally) has never been easier. Still, whether you’re planning to use your home cell-phone number while abroad, or planning to find a local provider upon arrival, it’s best to scope your options out ahead of your actual trip, taking into account the following (potential) issues:

If you want to use your own phone and/or number while abroad, you’ll want to do two things: One, call your service provider to activate international calling (and check on the rates involved), and/or two, make sure your phone can actually be used in the region where you’re travelling to. Depending on the type of phone you have (dual-band, tri-band, quad-band), you may or may not be able to use it in all regions.

Buying a local SIM-card once you arrive in the country where you’re going can often save you a lot of money. In many countries, it is a quick, painless, and relatively inexpensive process to grab a SIM and ‘top up’ on phone credit as you need it. In others, it sometimes involves registration and proof of where you’re staying – so it might be worth it to find out more about what’s entailed in getting a local SIM in your destination country before you leave home.

For more tips on using phones while abroad, check out next week’s edition of Globe Tipping.

Sources: “How to Use Cell Phones Abroad”.

“Using Cell Phones While Travelling”.


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