University claims that International students bring “diversity” are a pile of nonsense—
Our universities already have “diversity” coming out of their ears
Retired Canadian Ambassador
Point 1 : I don’t have any doubt that claims by universities that we benefit from a mass influx of foreign students because of the diversity they bring with them are a pile of nonsense. The fact is that we already have a high level of diversity on many of our campuses – to the point where it’s coming out of our ears and where, as Jason Kenney has pointed out, social cohesion can become a real issue. In 2010, Douglas Todd in the Vancouver Sun noted that about 70% of the student bodies at Simon Fraser University and UBC are visible minorities (even though vismins–Visible Minorities) do not yet constitute a majority of the population of Vancouver and are still a relatively small proportion of the population of British Columbia).
Not only that, but, while past UBC President Stephen Toope called for an increase in the number of Asian students at his university, it has to be noted that 60% of its new students are already of Asian origin. Furthermore, of this 60%, 38.4% are of Chinese origin, i.e., more than five times the size of the second largest Asian group (Korean-origin students at 7.5%). Rather than increasing diversity (which Toope keeps calling for), the influx of Asian students in a sense is actually beginning to decrease diversity as those of Chinese origin increasingly dominate the student body. I might mention in this regard that I have no problem with Chinese as individuals (my father-in-law is from China and our two sons are, therefore one quarter Chinese) but do have questions about the extent to which Canadians want to transform parts of the country into predominantly Chinese areas.
We are apparently not the only country faced with such a prospect. An Australian, Peter Wilkinson, recently wrote a book in which he predicted a similar future for his country based on its current immigration and foreign student programs. Dan Murray of Immigration Watch Canada raises a number of issues related to foreign student programs. Dan is based in Vancouver and has researched such topics as the Chinese Head Tax and the Komagata Maru incident). See http://immigrationwatchcanada.org/2012/03/12/immigrant-accuses-university-of-helping-international-students-to-defraud-canada/
As a final comment on this segment, I completely agree with those who say Canada needs to begin intelligently challenging this obsession with endless growth in the number of foreign students. This is not going to be easy considering the enthusiasm and vested interests of those who share the obsession. I notice that, in the wake of MP Ed Fast’s report, a group called the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy came out with its Final report titled “International Education: A Key Driver of Canada’s Future Prosperity.” In it, the panel recommends increasing the number of international students in Canada to 450,000 by 2022. Although they also include a target for Canadians studying abroad in that year, it is much smaller (i.e.50,000). For all their talk about the benefits of receiving part of one’s education in another country, their emphasis is clearly on getting much larger numbers of foreign students into Canada.
POINT 2 : There have been reports for some time that educational institutions in Canada have lowered some of their academic standards ( particularly in terms of competency in English) in order to accommodate foreign students. While it is quite possible that English standards have declined to some extent anyway because many Canadian students are not as good in this area as were students in earlier times, one hears from time to time reports that some foreign students are able to graduate from Canadian universities with almost no working knowledge of English. I don’t have any articles or research referring directly to this issue, though I do have a piece from earlier in 2012 from the Vancouver Sun mentioning the fact that Douglas College in Vancouver has been issuing degrees through its campuses in China to people who understand virtually no English. Although our primary concern has to be with foreign students in Canada, this particular episode illustrates rather graphically the fact that some Canadian institutions are quite prepared to play fast and loose with standards when it comes to making money from their international operations. The Vancouver Sun article refers to a Global TV documentary that gives more details on what, in the view of those interviewed on the program, constitutes academic fraud. An excerpt from the video can be accessed at:
If immigration staff are interested, I can send them the complete documentary on a disk. The extent of the fraud is quite revealing and does not appear to have been troubling to the 2012 BC government, members of whom also appear on the program.
For other information, see
Major U.S. Study Showed U.S. Universities Subsidized International Students