Canadian graduate schools responded quickly to offer their support to researchers and grad students impacted by U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban. Their schools offered to extend application deadlines, provide workspaces and grant visiting researcher status to stranded students and academics. These and other actions signified a deep commitment to the tenets of diversity, inclusivity and the global citizenry that underpin graduate education.
But there is more at play here. This commitment stems from an understanding that diverse perspectives, global insight, and intercultural awareness add value to and enrich the learning experience for all students and, ultimately, to research outcomes.
A substantial number of international students undertake graduate studies in Canada. They come here from across the globe to study, learn, conduct research and become a part of their communities. The most recent Statistics Canada data (PDF) indicate that over 30 percent of Canada’s doctoral students are non-Canadian. Not surprisingly, universities invest considerable resources to aid international students with the transition by delivering English (and French) as a second language course and offering, to all graduate students, various support services, workshops, and training to promote academic, professional and personal success.
Attracting international talent into their Ph.D. programs forms global connections and aligns with many universities’ international strategies. In a global knowledge economy, it’s imperative that they invest in training highly qualified individuals regardless of their country of origin. Indeed, upon completing a Ph.D. degree, more than half of international graduates indicate that they intend to become Canadians and contribute to our highly skilled workforce, according to a 2015 survey (PDF) by the Canadian Bureau for International Education. Those who return to their home countries often maintain their connections to Canada, becoming ambassadors for Canadian higher education.
According to data from the U15 group of universities, Canada’s research-intensive institutions provide financial packages to Ph.D. students, domestic and international, averaging $27,000 annually for four years to support their education. Moreover, graduate schools and international offices are committed to forming agreements with foreign governments and agencies that provide scholarships to Ph.D. degree-seeking international students studying in Canada (tuition plus living expenses for up to four years) to increase the total amount of funding available for all students. These practices contribute to making Canada a higher-education destination of choice.
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