Volume 9, Number 11 February 8, 2002

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A world of opportunity:
Internationalization at the U of S

U of S competing to gain benefits of hosting international students

U of S International Recruitment Director Alison Pickrell takes time out during a recruitment visit to Malaysia last April to check out some local artwork. 

Photo by Karen Barrett

By Alison Pickrell
Director, International Recruitment

Our office is covered with postcards, pictures and thank you cards from around the world – a daily reminder of the big changes that have taken place at the U of S over the past six years. In 1995 we had 543 international students on campus ... today there are 926 from over 75 countries around the world!

Hosting international students is an important part of internationalizing any university.  International students bring wider cultural perspectives to the Canadian campus and they help to bring our Saskatchewan students one step closer to taking their place as a member of the world community and global marketplace.

Alternatively, when international students return home, they will take back and share new ideas and experiences that have been part of their time away.  I see international students as informal Canadian ambassadors who will return home and assume important positions in business and government.  It is important for our students to understand that friends they make in the classroom today are possible business links in the future.

The field of international education marketing is intensely competitive and Canada has a long way to go to match the efforts of its major competitors – the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and France.   Despite the serious lack of co-ordination and funding among government stakeholders, Canada has made tremendous progress in attracting international students.  Currently more than 108,000 international students pursue their education in Canada each year, up 90 per cent from 1998.  International students contribute an estimated $3.5 billion per year to the Canadian economy.

The U of S has made tremendous strides in attracting international students.  Excellent programs, low tuition rates; a reasonable cost of living, and a clean, safe and friendly environment are our biggest selling features.  Due to budget constraints, we have marketed the university primarily by adapting our competitors’ “service perspective”.  Canada has a reputation as a “difficult” study destination. Improved application and inquiry turn-around rates, understandable procedures, and industry-standard international admission requirements have all contributed to a more transparent process for applicants, and an increase in application conversion rates for us.  Other important and cost-effective initiatives include innovative transfer credit arrangements, exchange and study-abroad agreements, and the development of strategic government and institutional relationships. The establishment of a full-time English as a Second Language program on campus, and a seamless transition from ESL to degree studies has also been key in positioning our university in the market.

The international education marketplace will become more competitive in the 21st century, and the U of S will have to work harder to develop a competitive advantage in this dynamic environment.  I sincerely hope that our staff, students, and faculty continue to benefit from the presence of international students and that the University of Saskatchewan truly remains a “University for the World”.


For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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