International students are valuable members of a university community, and bring a range of benefits to Ontario. These include economic impacts - contributing $2.9 billion to the provincial economy and creating just under 30,000 jobs1 – as well as contributing to diverse and vibrant classrooms and communities.
Both governments and institutions have recognized the value of international students: for example, in 2014 the federal government set a target of doubling the number of international students in Canada by 2022.
However, strategies to “internationalize” Ontario’s campuses must focus on more than the economic benefits to be derived from increasing numbers of international students. Rather it is crucial that the academic success and welfare of international students is at the heart of these conversations, as well as consideration of how to implement supports that make our campuses more diverse and welcoming spaces.
In addition, OUSA’s vision for increased internationalization includes the benefits for Canadian students studying abroad, and calls for increased supports to expand opportunities to do so.