Canadian universities have long lobbied for increased funding for international students. Now, following moves by two Ontario universities to make graduate school more affordable for international students by reducing or eliminating fees, a significant shift is underway regarding the degree to which the country’s universities can recruit and support the best and brightest international talent. Here’s a closer look at the latest developments, as recently reported by The Globe and Mail.

Opening Doors

As questions continue to percolate regarding the status of international students in the US, Canada is endeavoring to increase its share. Last fall, provincial changes gave Ontario universities more leeway to cover international student costs by allowing them to allocate a percentage of grant money for that purpose. The hope is that these graduates will go on to become contributing Canadian citizens.

But proponents say it’s about more than domestic benefits. Said one university representative, “We are seeing a lot more interest from developing countries, from northern Africa...from Latin American countries. When they finish their degrees, these students will be able to benefit their home countries. That’s an important role we as a university can play. We have a social obligation to disseminate knowledge worldwide and education can be that catalyst of revitalization in all parts of the world.”

More to Come

Furthermore, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development announced that a new international strategy is imminent, which will address the issue of graduate funding in Ontario in order to “help provide international students with a high quality postsecondary experience...and expand learning opportunities for domestic students who interact with their international counterparts on campuses across the province,” said Tanya Blazina.

And this is just the beginning, according to insiders. “We are actively exploring changes to how international student fees are charged. We intend to be among the most competitive institutions,” one university vice-provost and dean of graduate studies told The Globe and Mail.