The distances–virtual and physical–around the world seem to get smaller and faster to navigate by the day. To reflect this, university programs must sharpen their international focus–and according to a recent survey, they’re meeting that challenge.
In a 2006 survey conducted by the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada (AUCC), the past six years have seen Canadian universities respond to student demands by increasing the ?internationalization? of degree programs.
An Ottawa media release defines internationalization as ?the integration of an international and intercultural dimension into teaching, learning, research community functions of an institution.? Simply put, this means that a university is actively increasing the global focus of its programs.
This might include increasing the international content of course material; providing funding for students to study abroad; targeting scholarships to international students; developing programs around global disciplines, such as international affairs; and delivering education and training programs abroad.
The survey found, among other key points, that 81 per cent of Canadian universities provide financial support for students wanting to study abroad, an 18 per cent increase since 2000.
But these efforts also face serious challenges. Many universities face a lack of financial support for internationalization efforts, and, without a coordinated national strategy, there remains a lack of consistency in this increasingly important area.
By overcoming these challenges and recognizing the need to keep pace with today’s ?global knowledge economy,? Canadian universities will ensure that their graduates remain competitive on the world stage.