International exchanges are transformative experiences. They build worldviews and enhance students’ understanding of their own country’s place in the world.
Increasingly educational institutions see providing international learning to their students as essential component of a complete education. According to a report by AUCC in 2007, fully 93% of Canadian universities indicate a medium or high desire to promote and support out-of-country experiences for their students. Rationales are chiefly twofold:
- Developing global citizens including values suited to an interdependent and interconnected world
- Preparing graduates for career in a globalized economy including the ability to do business and conduct diplomacy, essential for a trading nation of middle size that aims to and often does, punch above its weight in international finance and politics
Where does Canada really stand?
With respect to full degree programs, Canada fares well, sending 43,900 students abroad in 2007 and 45,892 in 2009 according to UNESCO (2009, 2011). However, Canada’s participation rates in study abroad – exchanges or courses taken abroad for credit towards a Canadian credential – are extremely low.
AUCC found that only 2.2% of Canadian university students – just under 18,000 students – had completed a short-term credited study abroad experience in 2006-07. At the college level, ACCC reported that only 1.1% of college students participated in an out-of-country learning experience in 2007-08. Other countries have attained much higher study abroad rates.
Although Canadian universities are doing their best to encourage students to have the international education experience as part of their university journey, it is the students’ initiative and direct involvement in study abroad programs that can allow for this vision to happen. Find out more on how you can make study abroad part of your university adventure!