How much commission should Universities Canada pay to Donald Trump for his, shall we say, aggressive approach to recruitment? All jokes aside, the Trump Bump is real and will continue to have an impact despite the recent court rulings. The US market has historically been challenging for Canadian Universities to pull students from and on January 27, the Donald was able to propagate an everlasting message. Now, extra attention given to recruitment efforts could have a significant impact as President of Universities Canada, Paul Davidson, mentioned in his interview with CBC.
Granted, most universities have received more than enough applications to fill their classrooms for September 2017 and admissions departments are churning out as many offers as they can. Ramping up recruitment efforts to take advantage of the ban will likely not produce an immediate ROI as many Seniors in the US have likely already placed their applications and started committing to various schools. But as President Davidson said, extra attention should be given and the reason is the ban itself is symbolic of a much deeper cultural emphasis on exclusivity in the US that will have a negative affect on all US institutions. The Wall; the 20% tax; the withdrawal from the TPP; a tense phone call to the Australian PM and in general, making America great again signals to the rest of the world… GET OUT! Those that oppose Trump’s rhetoric are left feeling alienated and searching for a more inclusive place to study and live.
Exclusion has often been cited as the major concern amongst international students, to which, Canada has not be an exception to the rule, either. More efforts certainly need to be made for students of different backgrounds or disabilities with Canadian Universities trending upwards and improving. When it comes to international enrolment, The Ban will likely redirect attention to the next closest option, Canadian Universities and when populations coming from outside the US increase, Canadian Universities will have to continue improving services and support structures to withstand the influx.
So why should Canadian Universities even be interested in growing an international population? Doesn’t an increase in International students displace well-deserving Canadian students? Won’t they put a burden on the system? Not necessarily. Over the next couple years, there is an expected dip in post-secondary students according to Stats Canada and the Fraser Institute as seen on the chart below. Granted, most of the top universities will generate offers to the most competitive applicants, therefor displacing some well deserved students as a microcosm, however those students will start to fill seats at another school.
Not only is there space for International Students in every province other than Alberta, they truly diversify the classroom; they enrich the social capital; the learning experience; they help Canadian Students grow into global citizens and oh, have a $11.4 Billion annual impact on Canada’s GDP. Considering the massive e-commerce industry in Canada is estimated to be around $20+ Billion, it doesn’t take much to see why this international enrolment is a big deal. Opportunistic? Sure, but the financial return is the least important reason to increase this cohort. Canada has some of the absolute best universities in the world, furthermore cultural exchange is crucial to improve the next generation of Canadian leaders’ global understanding and awareness. Now is the time for Canadian Universities to capitalize on exclusive, isolationist policies down south. The next Canadian election appears poised to echo messaging from the 2016 US election, if Canadian Universities want to improve their international footprint, they better get started.