More stu­dents choos­ing Cana­dian col­leges

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - WORLD - By Craig S. Smith

Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties might have a more in­ter­na­tional feel this fall. En­roll­ment of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents will be sharply higher, uni­ver­si­ties say, and the in­com­ing fresh­men in­clude large num­bers of high school stu­dents from the United States. With the in­crease com­ing dur­ing the first year of a con­tentious pres­i­dency, there’s plenty of talk about the trend be­ing an ob­vi­ous re­ac­tion to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. “The so-called Trump ef­fect is real when it comes to en­roll­ment in Canada,” said Alan Shep­ard, pres­i­dent of Con­cor­dia Univer­sity in Mon­treal. “Ap­pli­ca­tions from in­ter­na­tional stu­dents for this com­ing fall’s se­mes­ter have surged.”

But it’s not that sim­ple. While plenty of stu­dents who have cho­sen Canada for higher ed­u­ca­tion cite the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate in the United States, ad­mis­sions of­fi­cers and stu­dents say eco­nomics re­mains the main mo­ti­va­tion.

Mad­die Zeif, 18, a high school stu­dent from Sun­der­land, Vt., said costs in Canada were lower than in the United States and were com­pa­ra­ble even to in-state tu­ition at the Univer­sity of Ver­mont. She’s go­ing to the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia in the fall.

“At UBC, I will be right in a city, at a very large univer­sity, right on the ocean, an hour from Whistler,” she said in an email, re­fer­ring to the pop­u­lar Cana­dian ski re­sort, “and I will be pay­ing al­most the same amount as my in-state tu­ition with­out fac­tor­ing in any fi­nan­cial aid yet.”

Be­sides the cost and the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate, stu­dents also say they were at­tracted by af­ford­able health care, rel­a­tive safety and a more re­laxed at­mos­phere in Canada. Stu­dents from out­side North Amer­ica also point to the ease of im­mi­gra­tion to Canada.

With about 1 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional stu­dents within its bor­ders, the United States is still the leader in in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion. Canada’s in­ter­na­tional stu­dent pop­u­la­tion, though, surged 92 per­cent from 2008 to 2015, reach­ing more than 350,000, ac­cord­ing to the Cana­dian Bureau for In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion.

Fi­nal fig­ures for this year’s ap­pli­ca­tion sea­son are not yet avail­able, but Cana­dian univer­sity of­fi­cials say the early num­bers sug­gest that Canada will be ed­u­cat­ing many more in­ter­na­tional stu­dents than ever this fall, par­tic­u­larly from the United States.

At Ry­er­son Univer­sity in Toronto, for ex­am­ple, the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional un­der­grad­u­ates, in­clud­ing from the United States, who have con­firmed that they will at­tend in the fall is up nearly 50 per­cent over this time last year. Univer­sity of Toronto of­fi­cials said the en­roll­ment of stu­dents from the United States for this fall had dou­bled from last school year, with a “yield” — the per­cent­age of ac­cepted stu­dents who com­mit to at­tend — of 25 per­cent com­pared with about 20 per­cent last year. “We’re go­ing to see record num­bers of stu­dents from the U.S.,” said Ted Sar­gent, a vice pres­i­dent at the univer­sity, Canada’s largest. Of­fi­cials at the Univer­sity of Toronto said they saw a jump in en­roll­ments from other coun­tries, too, with an in­crease of 75 per­cent from In­dia and more than 60 per­cent from the Mid­dle East and Turkey.

Smaller col­leges like Mount Saint Vin­cent Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax, Nova Sco­tia, said the num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions from the United States had more than dou­bled this year.

Tu­ition at Cana­dian col­leges is gen­er­ally lower than at com­pa­ra­ble U.S. uni­ver­si­ties, even though stu­dents from out­side Canada pay a higher rate than lo­cals do. Also, the Cana­dian cur­rency’s weak­ness rel­a­tive to the U.S. dol­lar gives stu­dents headed to Canada an in­stant dis­count of about 26 per­cent.

Me­gan Lud­wig, 23, from Prather, Calif., grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Ne­vada with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in eco­hy­drol­ogy, which stud­ies the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween wa­ter and ecosys­tems. But for her mas­ter’s she de­cided on Canada. The eco­nomics were com­pelling. “Cana­dian tu­ition is half the price per se­mes­ter or less than most U.S. uni­ver­si­ties and schol­ar­ships for mas­ter’s po­si­tions are less com­pet­i­tive and more widely avail­able,” Lud­wig wrote in an email. She said she landed a stipend that was nearly dou­ble any of the of­fers she re­ceived in the United States.

Nancy Gorosh, 19, of Hous­ton just fin­ished her fresh­man year at Con­cor­dia. Last year she was choos­ing be­tween Con­cor­dia and Hof­s­tra Univer­sity in Hemp­stead, N.Y. Gorosh said her tu­ition and fees at Con­cor­dia next year will be about $12,400 a year; Hof­s­tra would have been about $44,000.

Pol­i­tics is on the minds of stu­dents choos­ing Canada for col­lege, but their con­cerns are more nu­anced than a sim­ple dis­like of Trump.

“I don’t want to spend my col­lege years wor­ry­ing about what’s go­ing to hap­pen if I need an abor­tion,” Zeif said. “I don’t want to spend my col­lege years wor­ry­ing about what hap­pens if I get caught with a lit­tle weed in my bag.”


Nancy Gorosh of Hous­ton just fin­ished her fresh­man year at Con­cor­dia Univer­sity in Mon­treal. Gorosh said her tu­ition and fees at Con­cor­dia next year will be about $12,400 a year, while Hof­s­tra Univer­sity in Hemp­stead, N.Y., an­other univer­sity she was con­sid­er­ing, would have cost about $44,000.


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