Tuesday, May 29, 2012

B.C. sets sights on 47,000 international students

VICTORIA — Premier Christy Clark’s BC Liberal government will today commit $5 million toward scholarships and research internships as it unveils details of how it plans to attract 47,000 additional international students into the province over the next four years.
“[International education] is one of the eight sectors in the BC Jobs Plan,” Minister of Advanced Education Naomi Yamamoto said in an interview Friday, adding the sector brings significant investment into local economies.
“We want to increase, in the next four years, the number of international students that come to British Columbia by 50 per cent,” she added.
That target means B.C. has to increase the number of students it attracts by 47,000 over four years. It says almost half of that increase will come from enrolments in private-language schools, 30 per cent from public post-secondary institutions, 12 per cent from private post-secondary and 13 per cent in K-12.
In an effort to achieve those targets, the province will give a one-time $700,000 grant to a program that helps attract and support international students to do research internships at B.C. universities.
It will also grant $2.3 million to a program that helps graduate students from both B.C. and abroad undertake research internships in the province.
Both of these programs will be delivered by Mitacs, a B.C. based not-for-profit research organization that works with both academia and industry.
“The main thing we’re thinking about at Mitacs is how to create the knowledge workforce of the future, so we think about how to train graduate students in partnership with industry, we think about the types of people that Canada needs to attract as knowledge workers,” Arvind Gupta, CEO and scientific director of Mitacs, said in an interview Friday.
“My goal is to have so many people wanting to come to Canada that we cherry pick who we want,” he added, saying the B.C. government has been very supportive of his organization’s efforts.
In a related move, the government will also give $2 million for a grant program to help B.C. post-secondary students pursue an education abroad.
“Our strategy is not just attracting students from other countries to B.C., although that is our focus,” said Yamamoto. “We’ve also invested money to provide opportunities for our own domestic students”
Asked if today’s funding will be enough to meet the province’s ambitious targets, Yamamoto said she believes it will be a good complement to what is already happening.
“There’s a lot of resources already spent. We just need to, as government, look at maximizing that effectively,” said Yamamoto. “It would be great to be able to say we want to throw a tonne of money at this, but we actually already see that there’s a lot of money already being spent.”
Yamamoto added the strategy to be released today includes numerous other measures, such as helping schools and communities across B.C. provide the best possible programs for international students.
“A lot of our communities do it really, really well and some don’t do it well at all,” she said.
“We know there’s capacity for growth,” she added, saying government plans to develop a variety of partnerships and mentorships across the education sector to help smaller schools develop programs.
The strategy also promises that government will look at new legislation or new regulations on quality assurance to help ensure high standards are met across the province.
The strategy also says government will embark on a marketing strategy to increase international awareness of B.C. as an education destination.
There are about 3.3 million international students in the world now, and by 2025 the number is expected to reach 7.2 million.
B.C. now attracts about 94,000 international students to the province.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/sets+sights+international+students/6687992/story.html#ixzz1wGsAadzH

Sunday, May 27, 2012

New Canadian rules crack down on crooked immigration lawyers and consultants - thestar.com

Canada News: New Canadian rules crack down on crooked immigration lawyers and consultants - thestar.com

Ottawa has launched new rules that allow immigration authorities to share information involving crooked lawyers and consultants with their regulators.
The move came almost five years after a Star investigation found authorities and regulators worked in silos, allowing unscrupulous immigration practitioners go unpunished.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said sharing information on misconduct of immigration representatives is crucial to the integrity of the system.
To the bad apples in the industry, Kenney said: “We are on to you. Your days are numbered.”
The minister said the new rules, announced Friday, are the final piece of the government’s overhaul of the immigration consulting regulatory regime, after the old industry watchdog was dismantled and new regulations were introduced to criminalize unregistered or so-called ‘ghost’ consultants.
Under the new rules the immigration department, refugee board and border service agency will tip off provincial law societies and the new Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) if their members are suspected of coaching clients to lie to authorities or fabricating documents.
In the past, authorities were prohibited from sharing such information with regulators and the crooked practitioners were left unscathed if the allegations were not criminal in nature. Now they can be pursued professionally and risk losing their licence.
According to Phil Mooney, CEO of the ICCRC, the 2,300-member regulator, has received 350 complaints since its inception in 2011. The regulatory body has referred 130 complaints involving non-members to authorities. While 115 cases have been resolved, 90 are still under investigation.
“The type of information we now are being able to receive from immigration helps us prevent one of the most serious cases of fraud that otherwise would have been invisible to us,” said Mooney.
“That’s where an authorized representative colludes with an immigration applicant to defraud the government and comes here with false credentials. Now we can take action and remove the individual’s rights to practise.”