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Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Volume 9, Issue 32; September 22, 2010

Let’s Go Canada

Canuck Unis Model New “World” Programs.

Abroad Perspective

Study abroad programs help students ‘out’.

Over The Counter

Monsoon Wedding – Middlesex marries Aptech.

The Edge

The missing link. Canadian disconnect on marketing the maple leaf.

1) LET’S GO CANADA – Canuck Unis Model New “World” Programs.

Across the country, numerous Canadian universities are developing new ways to “internationalize” their undergraduate programs, thereby helping their students to ‘think globally’.

At the University of Prince Edward Island, a mandatory course on global issues has replaced the traditional freshman English-writing requirement, while at Toronto’s Centennial College, a global citizenship course sees all first-year students not only taking part in lectures and discussions on ways to make positive impacts in the world, but also maintaining portfolios to showcase their individual “learning development as global citizens”. At Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC, a particularly ambitious new global-competency program allows students to receive formal recognition for their internationally focused activities, including academics, service work, and study abroad. To earn the credits, students must qualify in at least two of four categories: foreign language; international experience; on-campus courses with an intercultural or international focus; and off-campus courses, volunteering, or jobs with an intercultural or international focus.

According to a recent report by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), 88% of Canadian students have a desire to be “globally minded” – a trend likely fuelled by the current economy.

“There’s a huge demand now for people who understand other cultures or speak other languages and know how business operates abroad,” says Jeff Brownlee, communications vice president at the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters trade association. “Canadian businesses and industry have to be in the global game. We were spoiled for generations because of our closeness to the States, with basically the same language and culture. Now we need the international perspective, so graduates with that understanding or experience are sought after.”

Source: “In Canada, More Than One Way to Globalize a Campus”. The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 1, 2010.

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVE – Study abroad programs help students ‘out’.

While gay and lesbian travel and tour operators become more and more common, in the realm of international education and study abroad, it’s a relatively new focus – and one gaining momentum.

For gay or lesbian students from more conservative or less accepting countries (either culturally or legally-speaking), university and study abroad options can be particularly attractive solely in the sense that they can provide a chance for students to “come out” or just be themselves – while having a positive, safe, and academically-rewarding international experience.

Catering to such students in particular are institutions including the University of Toronto (, which offers exchange opportunities with partner schools that have programs with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) content. These include Gender Studies options at Finland’s University of Helsinki as well as the University of Otago in New Zealand. Special pre-departure workshops at U of T offer in-depth looks at local laws surrounding sexuality, safety, coming out, finding queer-positive communities, and dealing with homophobia.

“While there are certain challenges that LGBT students may encounter abroad,” explains the Assistant Director for Safety at U of T, Holly Luffman, “many [of these students] have already tested the skills needed for travel – learning to negotiate boundaries, becoming familiar with new cultures, and taking risks in pursuit of self knowledge.”

Other academic programs tend to have more mixed content, yet still allow those interested in LGBT issues to learn more about different communities’ experiences around the world. Augsburg College’s Centre for Global Education in Cuernavaca, Mexico, for example, offers a program called “Crossing Borders: Gender and Social Change in Mesoamerica”.

“I wouldn’t call it an LGBT program per se,” says Max Beshers, an Augsburg program participant from 2009, “but it is definitely very LGBT and queer-friendly, offering homestays with LGBT families and internship opportunities at an LGBT sexual health organization… We were very supported by the program faculty, three of whom are openly queer.”

For more information on different LGBT-focused programs on offer around the world, visit the website for the student-run Gender-Related Education and Action Team (GREAT) at

Source: “School’s ‘out’ around the world”. , August 20, 2010.–school-s-out-around-the-world

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Monsoon Wedding – Middlesex marries Aptech.

In a move to strengthen and create more foreign degree programs, the UK-based Middlesex University has entered into an alliance with one of India’s biggest IT training institutes, Aptech Computer Education. The union provides Aptech students with more options under Middlesex’s B.Sc. (Honors) degree program in Information Technology and Business Information Systems.

Effective this year, final year students of Aptech’s Certified Computer Professional (ACCP) course (currently being offered in over 35 countries around the world) will be provided advance entry into Middlesex’s B.Sc. program at either its London, Dubai, or Mauritius-based campuses.

With this option to receive dual certification from both institutions, it is hoped that students will be drawn to the opportunity of receiving the international experience, in addition to the more advanced qualifications.
“In today’s globalized world,” says Aptech CEO & MD Ninad Karpe, “our students dream of an international degree which not only helps them gain international exposure but also improve their career prospects.”

The partnership highlights the increasingly blurred border between degrees and applied diploma education, as well as showcasing marriages of convenience between institutions looking to aggressively market programs. Aptech’s computer training benefits from the umbrella of a Middelsex degree, and Middlesex gets to tap into a traditional non-academic market.

Aptech is already seeing benefits. Shares of the company gained 3.08% on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Wednesday, September 1, shortly after the announcement was made.

Middlesex is already one of the more successful players recruiting foreign-fee paying students. According to University Vice Chancellor Michael, Driscoll, Middlesex has over 34,000 international students – studying at either their own campuses or with partner institutions around the globe.

Source: “Aptech Computer enters into alliance with Middlesex University”. IRIS, September 1, 2010.

4) “THE EDGE” – The missing link. Canadian disconnect on marketing the maple leaf.

As a Canadian living in Thailand, it’s great being anonymous. People know little, nor care, about Canada. Great for the quiet life I seek here. Not so good for Canada.

An August release of an Asia Pacific Foundation report says by ignoring relations with Southeast Asia, Canada’s growing irrelevance has shrunk its impact to the point of being shut out of key trading alliances. “Canada no longer appears on radar screens,” says the report which identifies Southeast Asia as a market base of 620 million people and a combined annual GDP of $1.5 trillion USD.

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney fired a similar warning shot last week when he cautioned on the lack of global diversification of Canadian interests. Canada still does the vast majority of its business with the U.S., and America’s economic woes are far from a secret. “It will take a substantial reorientation for all Canadian business,” said Carney of the effort needed to reach out to new markets around the world. “Everybody, from government to small business, has to think through what its potential implications are.”

So what’s this have to do with education? 
A lot – especially international education.

It’s a fact of life in Asia, that the education of the children is the number one economic concern of families (unlike Canada, you can’t rely on subsidized inexpensive public education). People in Asia know as much about the quality and value of Canadian education, secondary and post-secondary, as they do about the Edmonton Oilers. Not much.

The lack of promoton is a glaring Canadian shortcoming. Not for Southeast Asians to know about the Oilers – few care these days even in Edmonton ! But for Canada to be so off the radar screens of the most dynamic new markets in a global marketplace so competitive, so volatile and so fragile ? Canada’s irrelevance does makes sense though when you see the stats showing the small slice of the pie of international students which Canada gets from this region.

In the burgeoning markets of Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, Canada barely registers as an option for families, who have money, opportunity, the desire, and they will send their sons and daughters to study abroad – to the US, to the UK, to Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain. An absurdly tiny number from Southeast Asia choose Canada. Australia is closer, but should it have fifty times the number of Malaysians studying there than Canada ? North America is all about the same distance from Southeast Asia. But why almost twenty thousand Thais and Indonesians study in America, and just a few hundred in Canada ? Canada is truly a minnow in this vast Pacific region.

The connection between people across the globe through education is perhaps the most potent pathway to building links to present and future trade – economic, cultural and social. For all its media and military might, America’s greatest global asset is how many people around the world its universities educate. The UK has history, but it also spends hundreds of millions annually to spread British influence. Many other nations have promoted and parlayed education ties to long term economic growth – Australia is the best example in the last two decades.

When it comes to learning this lesson, Canada is still in kindergarten.


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