By Dr. Guangwei Ouyang, Vice President of International Education and Strategic Partnerships
In recent years, Douglas College has experienced strong growth in the number of international students choosing to study here – in part due to Canada’s pro-immigration policies and positive multicultural brand image under the leadership of Justin Trudeau (in contrast with current U.S. immigration policies under Donald Trump a.k.a. “The Trump Effect” or the U.K.’s Brexit referendum results). Canada has become the number one destination of choice for international students, and Canadian institutions are facing both opportunities and challenges as a result.
In 2016/17, Douglas College welcomed more than 2800 international students from 98 different countries. At the same time, we offered study abroad opportunities to a mix of countries including Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Wales and more. Our international students, as well as Canadian students who return from international experiences, bring to the College community a global perspective and set of skills that provides value to their classmates and future employers. “Global competency”, as referred to by scholars of internationalization, equips students with the skills necessary to succeed in their globalized community or society and compete in today’s increasingly complex and globalized labour markets.
Despite the apparent benefits of internationalization in higher education and Canada’s friendly external image, recent increases in the number of international students studying in Canada have triggered debates – both nationally and within Douglas College – about the right balance of domestic vs. international students, and the responsibilities of publicly-funded institutions to both student populations. Why do we need international students? Is there any benefit to studying abroad? What does internationalization mean?
To help answer these questions, we encourage students, staff and faculty to engage with the College community as a whole in challenging and thought-provoking ways by attending Douglas College’s Global Engagement Days Nov. 6-10. Through a series of panel discussions, research presentations, film screenings and information sessions, Global Engagements Days is an opportunity for staff, students and faculty to engage in meaningful discussions about the above issues regarding internationalization in higher education, learn from the diverse backgrounds and cultures of the College community, and experience the food, music, activities and performances from around the globe. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about the international programs available to all students at the College.