BY CASEY SCHELLENBERGER
Conestoga College has had a 40 per cent increase in first-year international students compared to last year’s fall semester, bringing it closer to its goal of having international students make up 10 per cent of the student population.
“Last year it was eight per cent and we’re just below 10 per cent now,” said Alan Vaughan, vice-president of Enrolment Management and International Education.
Besides the 40 per cent increase in first-year students, there was a 33 per cent increase in international students in all years, and a 36 per cent increase in English as a second language (ESL) students.
Vaughan credits this increase partly to the development of the recruitment network which attracts international students, not only to Canada, but to Conestoga specifically.
“It’s a big world, and you can’t be everywhere, so we’ve concentrated in some markets that have been promising for us,” Vaughan said.
Traditionally, China and India are where most of the international students come from. But, the college is seeing more students from countries such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
“We’re developing a reputation as a really good place for international students to come to school.”
Vaughan also attributes the rise in international students to the services offered by the college.
“It’s much more than just going out there and having good recruitment and marketing,” Vaughan said.
“We see our goal as getting students off to a smooth start, but also that our office is a safe haven for them so that they always know they have someone they can come to if they’re having some difficulty.”
They face a lot of challenges that Canadian students don’t face.
Besides the support aspects, International Student Services puts on events throughout the year with the goal of “internationalizing” the campus which, according to Vaughan, means, “(making) an environment where Canadian students and international students will mix more.”
“International students want to meet more Canadian friends; they say that in surveys, they say that overwhelmingly,” Vaughan said.