“University leaders want more Canadians to study abroad” | Jamie Bradshaw | Feb. 3, 2012 | Globe and Mail

Innovation may be encouraged through undergrad students with international experience: 12% of Canadian undergrads, compared to 20% in U.S., and one-third in Germany.  More public funding needed?

… when 25 university presidents converged in Ottawa to discuss Canada’s innovation agenda with parliamentarians on Tuesday, several of them cautioned that more homegrown students need to study outside their own backyard to develop strong worldwide connections and an instinct to innovate.

“Canadian students are not big travellers in comparison to, say, Americans or New Zealanders or Australians, and they don’t even travel that much from province to province,” said Queen’s University principal Daniel Woolf.

About 9 in 10 Canadian students go to university in their home province, and evidence suggests a large proportion choose a school within 20 kilometres of home. Only 12 per cent of undergraduates have an international placement or exchange experience, according to a 2009 survey – reason to fear the experience of many students is too parochial given high demand for the ability to work and think globally.

“If I look across the U.S. universities which are most like ours, it’s more like 20 per cent, or a little higher,” said Herb O’Heron, director of research and policy analysis at the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “When I talk to people in Germany, more like a third of students have [such] an experience.”  [….]

Most universities have dozens, even hundreds of partnerships with schools abroad, but only a fraction of students take advantage of them, especially early in their studies, said Dalhousie University president Tom Traves. [….]

Dr. Traves worries the public still sees study abroad as frivolous, making student travel a tough political sell. Most trips are funded out of strained university budgets, through in-house fundraising or out of students’ pockets.

By contrast, the Brazilian government recently promised to spend $2-billion sending 75,000 more of its students abroad.

“If you put in place a broad national strategy along these lines, I don’t think it would cost big money in the context of the total budget of the federal government – we’re talking tens of millions of dollars, not hundreds. That would be astonishing and have a huge impact,” Dr. Traves said.

“To be a global player, you have to have global understanding, and you can’t do that sitting in your basement looking at a computer screen.”

Original article “University leaders want more Canadians to study abroad” | Jamie Bradshaw | Feb. 3, 2012 | The Globe and Mail at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/university-leaders-want-more-canadians-to-study-abroad/article2325034/.

Some supporting context in the pre-budget submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, “Canada’s universities: navigating through the changing world”, August 2011 | Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada at http://www.aucc.ca/media-room/publications/canadas-universities-navigating-through-the-changing-world.
University leaders want more Canadians to study abroad - The Globe and Mail