Possessing global skills key for internationalization — survey

December 9, 2014

OTTAWA – Canada’s universities are becoming more internationally engaged, placing a premium on  more global experiences for students to prepare them for success in today’s global knowledge economy. That’s among the findings of a new survey by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada on internationalization at the country’s universities.

The report, released today, shows that 96 percent of Canadian universities ensure internationalization is integrated in strategic plans, and more than 80 percent identify it as one of their top five priorities.

The report also highlights where Canada can do better, and why that is so important.

Just three percent of full-time undergraduates (about 25,000 students) had an international experience in 2012-13, and only 2.6 percent had a for-credit experience abroad. Universities indicate that cost is the most significant barrier to more young Canadians studying overseas during the course of their degree. At the same time, the most important benefits of internationalization for students are the development of a global perspective and values, gaining international competencies, and increasing employability and access to job opportunities in the international marketplace.

Key findings:

  • Universities are translating internationalization into action with greater urgency: 89 percent say that the pace of internationalization on their campuses has accelerated during the past three years.
  • Canada’s universities are leading the way in engaging the world’s most dynamic economies. Eighty-six percent of Canadian universities identify geographic priorities for their international activities. China, Brazil, India, the United States, France, Mexico and Germany are top priority partner countries.
  • Universities report the most important barrier to international research collaboration to be a lack of research funding opportunities, and challenges related to different funding application cycles in these countries.
  • Of the 97 percent of Canadian universities that offer international experiences:
    • nearly all enable students to do academic coursework abroad,
    •  70 percent send students to foreign field schools,
    • 67 percent offer service work or volunteer opportunities,
    • 67 percent help students do research abroad, and
    • 66 percent offer foreign work experience.
  • Eighty-one percent of Canadian universities offer collaborative academic programs with international partners, a major increase over the last eight years. Of those, 63 percent offer dual or double degree programs and 45 percent offer joint degree programs.
  • In 2014, there were approximately 89,000 full-time international students enrolled in undergraduate programs on Canadian campuses (approximately 11 percent of full-time undergraduates), and 44,000 full-time international students in graduate programs (almost 28 percent of all graduate students).


“This survey shows that Canada’s universities have broadened and deepened their international activities and are leading the way for Canada to engage the world’s most dynamic economies like China, India and Brazil,” says Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “Research, academic and people-to-people ties forged through these relationships are vital for Canada’s prosperity.”

“The global knowledge economy requires employees with the kinds of skills and competencies gained through global study experiences,” says Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “Unless Canada takes action now to ensure its students have more opportunities to live and learn in another country as part of their university education, Canada risks losing its competitive position in the world.”

About AUCC

As the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, AUCC represents 97 public and private not-for-profit universities and university degree level colleges. A membership organization providing university presidents with a unified voice and a forum for collective action, AUCC has represented the interests of Canadian universities since 1911.


Read the full survey report, Canada’s Universities in the World

Tagged:  Global connections, Study abroad

About Universities Canada
Universities Canada is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, representing the interests of 97 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities.

Media Contacts:
Helen Murphy
Director, communications
Universities Canada
Tel.: 613-563-3961 ext. 238
Cell.: 613-608-8749

Nadine Robitaille
Communications officer
Universities Canada
Tel.: 613-563-3961 ext. 306

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