ED Fast, Minister of International Trade, on Wednesday launched a new International Education Strategy designed to maintain and enhance Canada’s global position in higher education. The comprehensive plan sets targets to attract more international researchers and students to Canada, deepen the research links between Canadian and foreign educational institutions and establish a pan-Canadian partnership with provinces and territories and all key education stakeholders, including the private sector.

Canada’s International Education Strategy: Harnessing Our Knowledge Advantage to Drive Innovation and Prosperity was announced during an event at the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University attended by the key stakeholders that make up Canada’s international education community. The strategy is the result of extensive consultations by an advisory panel and is an important part of the recently announced Global Markets Action Plan.

The strategy will help Canada build on its already strong education advantages and performance. Capitalizing on these vast opportunities will create jobs and economic growth and help Canada retain and enhance its global leadership position and become more prosperous, innovative and competitive.

As approved in Economic Action Plan 2013, ongoing funding of $5 million per year will be dedicated to supporting the objectives of the International Education Strategy. This investment will be primarily dedicated to branding and marketing Canada as a world-class education destination to audiences within six priority markets.

In addition, the strategy will provide $13 million over two years to the Globalink program of Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization that fosters innovation through research and training programs. The Globalink program facilitates student mobility between Canada and Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam.

The strategy seeks to double the number of international students choosing Canada by the year 2022 without displacing Canadian students.

Attracting more than 450,000 international researchers and students to Canada by 2022 will:

* create at least 86,500 net new jobs for Canadians, bringing the  total of jobs sustained by international education in Canada to 173,100 new jobs;

* see international student expenditures in Canada rise to over $16.1 billion, generating economic growth and prosperity in every region of Canada; and

* provide an approximate $10 billion annual boost to the Canadian economy.

Other key elements of the strategy include:

* focusing resources and efforts on priority markets that align with Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan (Brazil, China, India, Mexico, North Africa and the Middle East and Vietnam);

* developing Canada’s education “brand”, which will be used by all partners in priority markets;

* improving linkages and collaboration between Canadian and international educational institutions and research institutes; and

* entrenching a pan-Canadian approach in the international education sector with all key stakeholders and aligning activities to better advance shared objectives.

“Our government recognizes that international education is a key driver of jobs and prosperity in every region of Canada. By striking a panel of eminent Canadians to advise us, by working closely with key stakeholders every step of the way, and by developing a plan that will align our efforts with those of our provincial and territorial partners and members of the international education community, we are ensuring that Canada stays ahead of the curve in a global environment that is fiercely competitive. As a key component of Canada’s new Global Markets Action Plan, this strategy will also help us advance Canada’s commercial interests in priority markets around the world and ensure that we maximize the people-to-people ties that help Canadian workers, businesses and world-class educational institutions achieve real success in the largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing economies in the world,” said Fast.

“This plan is rooted in Canada’s already strong economic leadership on the world stage and is further proof of the expertise and capabilities Canadians have to offer. Furthermore, the plan is firmly grounded in our government’s focus on creating jobs and opportunities and our commitment to return to balanced budgets in the short term. By making the right investments and working with the right partners, we will create thousands of new jobs and add billions of dollars to our economy over the long term,” said federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

“As we said in our report, international education is a key driver of the Canadian economy. By supporting the vast majority of our recommendations and by setting clear targets for growth, this comprehensive strategy will strengthen Canada’s leadership position in this vital sector and deepen ties between Canadian and international postsecondary institutions, while sowing the seeds of economic growth and prosperity across Canada,” said Amit Chakma, President and Vice Chancellor of Western University and Chair of the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy.