Canada, U.S. lure foreign students

Elizabeth Giorgi

Although the value of the Canadian dollar is lower than the U.S. dollar, some say a Canadian degree is as valuable as an American one.

Canadian universities have reported record increases in international enrollment.

Consistent attendance at recruitment fairs, print advertising, overseas education agencies and reliance on word of mouth has attributed to as much as 20 percent increases in many Canadian universities, said Elizabeth Challis, director of International Student Services at the University of Winnipeg.

The University of Minnesota has also reported an increase in international student admissions for the past two years.

Margaret Catambay, who works in the Office of International Programs at the University, said preliminary undergraduate enrollment numbers show an increase in the percentage of international students recruited and enrolling in courses at the University.

The Graduate School is also experiencing an increase in international applications and enrollment said Sandra Turpin, student support services member in graduate admissions.

“We are usually a little bit ahead of the trend of what is going on around the country,” she said.

Many changes occurred because of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, which caused a slight decrease in international students enrolling in the years following, she said.

The University experienced a decline in applications right away. Because of the school’s large student population, there was a noticeable decrease in applications, she said. After international students began to feel more comfortable coming back to the United States to study, the University was one of the first schools nationwide to see an increase in applications.

Because Canada is so close to the United States, Turpin said, it is not a surprise that Canadian schools are also receiving more applications.

Challis also mentioned Sept. 11, 2001, as a contributing factor to the record increase.

After Sept. 11, 2001, it was more difficult for students to receive visas in the United States. Many students chose to study in Canada instead because of the countries’ similarities, Challis said.

In 2004, University of Winnipeg experienced a 20 percent increase in international student enrollment and is anticipating a 5 percent increase in 2005. The increase is due to the enrollment of more students from China and India, she said.

The quality of education in Canadian and American universities is very similar, Challis said.

There is more opportunity for employment after graduation in the United States compared to Canada because there are more big cities in America. Therefore, the United States doesn’t have to recruit as aggressively, Challis said.

Canada has been slower in promoting its schools. Winnipeg attributes its enrollment improvements to increased attendance by school officials at international college fairs.

Very little is done with print advertising; however, the University of Winnipeg has contracts with agents to promote their school overseas, she said.

Challis doesn’t attribute financial aid awards to the increase in international students, but rather, the lower cost of tuition.

Canadian colleges are public schools. Public funding helps keep tuition low, she said.

First-year biological sciences student Manami Bhattacharya said she doesn’t receive reciprocity, so she considered attending a Canadian university.

“It is cheaper,” she said, “and that is basically (the only reason why I considered it).”