The troubles that come with bonanzas

International student enrolment bonanzas, that is. While many schools, especially in the US, are trying to cope with dwindling international student enrolments, some schools have the opposite problem… and it can be a problem.

Recently, for example, 75 students “just showed up,” according to College of New Caledonia president Henry Reiser. There was no availability left in the programs that the students had originally been accepted into. Apparently, because of the delays between being accepted into the college and in receiving visas, students general failure to pre-register in courses, and the requirement that students be enrolled full time in order to keep their visas, the students were left being told that their only option was to change their course of study.

Read more in the Prince George Citizen and even more in the Prince George Citizen.

Issues faced by international students

We write this blog from the perspective of ELT professionals and most of our readers are teachers and other ELT professionals. It is always good to look at the issues in our industry from different perspectives. While most of us are in touch with students, we fully recommend reading this article on the CBC about the issues that international students face.

Teaching Lexically shortlisted for ELTon Award

Hugh Dellar and Andrew Walkley’s Teaching Lexically (published by DELTA and distributed in the US and Canada by English Central) has been shortlisted for the 2018 ELTons in the “Innovation in Teacher Resources” category.

Teaching Lexically shows what a lexical view of language looks like, and explores how it differs from a more traditional “grammar + words” view. It then considers what implications such a view might have for classroom practice. At the heart of Teaching Lexically are three main ideas: grammar and context are both taught better in combination, context is absolutely central, and classrooms need to be input-rich (and input must be useful at that).

An argument against prioritizing international students

Protectionist voices are not lacking in Canada. A recent article in the Financial Post argues that Canada should stop pursuing the cash cow of international students and instead focus on educating Canadians for the jobs that we will need filled.

While the article is worth reading, some statements stand out as rather ignorant and fearful, such as this one:

Canada must identify those credentials and skills that are strategically important to meeting the needs of the future economy such as science, technology, engineering, and computer science. These courses must be offered to Canadians only and not to outsiders who will take these skills home and build their economies in order to compete against Canada.

Presumably the author has not read the RBC report Humans Wanted. She fails to mention that post-secondary iunstitutions are insufficiently funded and therefore have put increasing emphasis on recruiting international students in order to stay afloat.

Read more (and come up with more points to argue).

The US is not alone: UK is also falling behind in international students

It is becoming a bit of a stale story by this point, but we can’t help but notice any new reports coming out about how international students are increasingly turning towards Canada as their destination of choice. Undoubtedly, our weak dollar and our renowned openness towards immigration and tolerance of different cultures, as well as our exceptional education system can be thanked for the trend.

To learn how Canada is now displacing the UK in many areas to become the second most favored destination for international students, click here to read an article in the University World News.

New study argues “human skills” essential for employability

RBC Royal Bank has a 10 year project and a $500 million commitment to helping youth prepare for the workplace of the future. As part of this project, they recently released a study titled “Humans wanted; How Canadian youth can thrive in the age of disruption.” The general gist is that AI is and will continue to change many of the jobs that youth are currently preparing for and that therefore efforts and investment is being wasted; it would be much better if there were a focus on developing “human skills” (such as communication, judgement, decision making and critical thinking) will much better equip people to adapt to employment changes and to have long term employability.

We analyzed data on hundreds of different occupations and found that many jobs, even in disparate fields, are connected by a set of foundational skills. We grouped jobs based on similar skills into six clusters. By focusing on the skills required, it is surprisingly easy to pivot between seemingly unconnected roles. Musicians and paramedics might not seem to have a lot in common, but both jobs require high levels of focus, excellent analytical skills and attention to detail. It takes upgrading only four skills for someone to transition from dental assistant to graphic designer.

For those of us in the ESL/EFL industry, the implications are not difficult to see – communicative and functional competence, as well as all the accompanying soft skills (some cultural, some not) are key and should be fully integrated and taught explicitly. Check out the Mind Series and Office Soft Skills as good examples of classroom materials that do just that.

Read more in The Globe and Mail.

Geek out and read the report (or just the summary).

Wooing international PhD students, future citizens

There is a move in Ontario universities to make tuition free – or at least, more affordable – for international PhD students, a move that was given momentum by the Ontario government’s announcement that universities could use 10% of the grants they receive for graduate students to enrol more graduate students. Research-intensive universities can use up to 15%. This means that 1200 students will be funded for the next three years, up from 133.

Last month, the University of Toronto announced that international graduate students would now only pay domestic student fees. Brock University more recently announced that fees would be completely covered by the university for international graduate students.

Why? There are a few reasons, but a very compelling one is the obvious from a recent study from the University of Toronto that found that half of its international PhD graduates become permanent residents.

Read more in The Globe and Mail.