Education News – The new face of Canada

The post-secondary education profile of new Canadians

WINNIPEG (CUP) — Immigrants new to Canada are highly educated and prefer ?real-world? disciplines like engineering and business administration. They also differ greatly from native-born Canadians in their approaches to post-secondary education.

Data pulled from the 2006 Census revealed that between 2001 and 2006, 700,000 immigrants came to Canada.

Their education levels are astounding. Approximately 51 per cent of immigrants aged 25 [to] 64 held a university degree, double the percentage of Canadian-born degree holders of the same age.

Overall, immigrant Canadians comprise half of Canada’s doctorate and master’s degree holders. Sixteen per cent of them earned their degree in a Canadian institution.

?Canada is twice the size as Brazil and one third on the population,? said Caroline Rosa, a 25-year-old Agriculture graduate student at the University of Manitoba. She began her immigration process earlier this year.

?There is a lot more competition back home . . . I wanted to take a higher degree that would allow me to work in places other than Brazil.?

At the University of Manitoba, 15 per cent of graduate students have international student status. Many of them are in the process of immigration.

Aaron Glenn, vice-president external for the University of Manitoba Graduate Students’ Association, believes that the numbers are also a factor of the immigration system.

?There is a preference for people who are more educated,? he said.

It is also the result of the highly rewarding graduate school system Canada has.

?In Brazil, I knew I was getting the same pay as a pharmacist as I would as a student here,? said Rosa.

Rosa came here in 2005, lured by graduate stipends, a familiar academic advisor, and the promise of opportunity. She applied for immigration earlier this year.

The differences between the Canadian-born and new immigrant populations continue past degree acquisition, however, and into their choice of disciplines.

Approximately one quarter of immigrants between 2001 and 2006 held a university degree in Engineering. Only six per cent of Canadian-born people between the age of 26 and 64 held the same degree.

Business, Management, Marketing and Related Support Services were second in line for immigrant participation.

Thirty-five per cent of the University of Manitoba’s international graduate students concentrated in the department of Engineering in 2006. It was second only to Agriculture, which contained 45 per cent of the non-citizen students.

In comparison, these students make up only 12 per cent of the university’s Arts faculty.

One reason for this is simple supply and demand.

According to the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, the number of international students pursuing post-graduate engineering almost doubled between 2001 and 2005 to comprise nearly one third of all engineering graduate students in Canada.

?Engineers find more opportunities here than in India, they can go very far here,? said 28-year-old Chandra Singh, who is in his third year for a Biosystems Engineering PhD.

Singh said that India has a 200,000-person waiting list for enrolment in an engineering PhD program.

?It’s a very tough competition to get into a good engineering school [back home].?

In Canada, where only 20 per cent of the population holds a university degree, the options are much greater.

?In Brazil, I have to be the best to even get a job and get minimum wage,? said Rosa. ?Here, people do well without having a degree.?

?[Canadian-born citizens] wait to see what they’re really like,? she continued. ?[Back home], none of my friends went to work right after high-school.?

Immigrant and international students fill educational and economic voids that Canadians miss out on.

?There’s a demand for higher education (masters and PhD students) here, if you don’t recruit Canadians you go internationally,? said Singh.

Cultural differences play a great part in the post-secondary education choices of new Canadians.

?In certain countries there’s an emphasis to go to post-secondary education and go into engineering or medicine where you’ll make something of yourself,? said Glenn.

?Here, the parents don’t seem to be [as pushy].?

Rosa agrees.

?My parents really encouraged me to have a higher degree . . . Back home, you are not likely to have many chances if you don’t hold a degree.?

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