New col­lege pro­gram helps to cel­e­brate In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Week

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY MATTHEW LIEBENBERG — mlieben­[email protected] (For pho­tos of the cel­e­bra­tion please check out Prairie Post Nov. 30)

The grow­ing num­ber of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents at the Swift Cur­rent cam­pus of Great Plains Col­lege made it pos­si­ble for the in­sti­tu­tion to cel­e­brate In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Week.

The col­lege hosted a four-course mul­ti­cul­tural lunch for stu­dents and staff, Nov. 15. Some of the stu­dents from In­dia per­formed a dance while a group of stu­dents and staff par­tic­i­pated in an in­for­mal dance.

Kristy Slet­ten, the man­ager of ad­mis­sions and in­ter­na­tional at Great Plains Col­lege, said it was the first time an In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Week cel­e­bra­tion hap­pened at the col­lege.

“We thought that it was fit­ting, given the fact that we have a core group of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents here this year,” she told the Prairie Post af­ter the event. “It’s fun to show­case their cul­ture and to cel­e­brate the idea that the in­ter­na­tional pro­gram is alive and well.”

In­ter­na­tional stu­dents are cur­rently ac­cepted to the ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant and busi­ness cer­tifi­cate pro­grams at the Swift Cur­rent cam­pus. A small num­ber of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents were pre­vi­ously ac­cepted to these pro­grams, but more spa­ces have been cre­ated for stu­dents from abroad due to the ex­pan­sion of the in­ter­na­tional pro­gram. As a re­sult, 40 new stu­dents from In­dia, Mex­ico, Venezuela and the Philip­pines have been study­ing at the col­lege since Septem­ber.

“So far we have been thrilled with how they’re set­tling in,” she said. “They seem very happy. They are ad­just­ing very well to life in Canada and life in

Swift Cur­rent.”

Karthikeyan Shun­mugam Palanichami has en­rolled for the two-year busi­ness cer­tifi­cate pro­gram. He is from Pol­lachi in the south­ern In­dia state of Tamil Nadu, but he has been liv­ing in Nor­way for over six years. He did a mas­ters de­gree in in­for­ma­tion sys­tems man­age­ment in Oslo and de­cided to pur­sue his in­ter­est in busi­ness stud­ies.

When he looked at op­tions to study in Canada, he specif­i­cally did not want to come to any of the big­ger cities. He prefers to study at an ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion where smaller class sizes will make it pos­si­ble to have reg­u­lar in­ter­ac­tion with lec­tur­ers. He con­tacted dif­fer­ent col­leges in Man­i­toba and Saskatchewan, and he was im­pressed with the re­sponses from Slet­ten.

“At the end of the con­ver­sa­tion I said I'm go­ing to ap­ply to your col­lege,” Palanichami re­called. “I'm very sat­is­fied with the an­swers she gave to me. Other places took plenty of time to an­swer me and they could not get my ques­tions and they could not an­swer, but she an­swered ev­ery­thing.”

Ev­ery­thing has been go­ing well since his ar­rival in Swift Cur­rent and he en­joys liv­ing here be­cause of the small size of the city.

“I re­ally love the place,” he said. “The rea­son is this is one of the small­est town or city I have lived in be­cause In­dia is a huge coun­try and we find peo­ple ev­ery­where, wher­ever we go, and we do not even know who is liv­ing next to us on the next block. Here ev­ery­one is greet­ing ev­ery­one. I was re­ally sur­prised that some peo­ple came to me and asked how is your liv­ing in Swift Cur­rent.”

Slet­ten con­sid­ers it to be part of her role to keep an eye on stu­dents to make sure ev­ery­thing is go­ing well with their tran­si­tion when they ar­rive in Swift Cur­rent.

“We have also re­ceived a ton of ben­e­fit from the New­comer Wel­come Cen­tre ser­vices,” she said. “They have been amaz­ing in sup­port­ing the stu­dents. The stu­dents have all re­ally de­vel­oped a re­la­tion­ship with the staff there and they have done a ton to help the stu­dents set­tle.”

She re­turned from a sec­ond in­ter­na­tional re­cruit­ment trip just be­fore the In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Week cel­e­bra­tion. She made her first visit to Viet­nam and a sec­ond visit to the Philip­pines, and she is ex­pect­ing to see more stu­dents from both coun­tries to en­rol for the 2019-20 aca­demic year. She was pleased to see grow­ing in­ter­est in the Philip­pines, which is an in­di­ca­tion that the re­cruit­ing agents have been do­ing a good job to pro­mote the col­lege.

She also vis­ited Ger­many and Switzer­land, be­cause there is a mar­ket in those coun­tries for col­lege-level or tech­ni­cal-level cour­ses.

“I found that the mar­ket in Ger­many is def­i­nitely more lim­ited than I thought it was go­ing to be,” she said. “The mar­ket in Switzer­land though has some re­ally nice po­ten­tial and I’m hop­ing I’ll be able to cap­i­tal­ize on that.”

She is al­ready plan­ning a third trip in the spring of 2019. The stan­dard prac­tice for an in­ter­na­tional re­cruit­ment strat­egy is to visit tar­get mar­kets twice a year.

The col­lege plans to in­crease the in­take of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents to be­tween 65 and 70 stu­dents for 2019-20. The same two pro­gram op­tions will be avail­able in Swift Cur­rent and the busi­ness cer­tifi­cate pro­gram will also be of­fered to in­ter­na­tional stu­dents at the War­man cam­pus.

The col­lege fol­lows the Min­istry of Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion's guide for tu­ition lev­els for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents. The tu­ition fee is 2.5 times what a do­mes­tic stu­dent would pay, but she noted the in­ter­na­tional fee will re­main the same for next year and the col­lege will in­clude ad­di­tional ser­vices to make it more eco­nom­i­cal for stu­dents.

Although the in­ter­na­tional pro­gram has a fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit for the col­lege, it is not the main mo­ti­va­tion for the ini­tia­tive.

“It is def­i­nitely im­por­tant for the col­lege sys­tem to have pro­grams that are filled, to make sure that we’re of­fer­ing as many dif­fer­ent pro­grams as we can and we can do that by mak­ing sure that we have en­rol­ment,” she said. “In terms of the in­sti­tu­tional ben­e­fits I think def­i­nitely the op­por­tu­nity for our stu­dents to have ac­cess to many dif­fer­ent cul­tures is the prime rea­son why I con­tinue to do what I do.”

KRISTY SLET­TEN

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