Nova Scotia must do more to welcome international students

May 28, 2013

Halifax, N.S.—The Association of Atlantic Universities released survey results today confirming that most international students are interested in immigration, and for one in three immigration is their primary motivation for studying in Nova Scotia. Government, business, universities and all Nova Scotians must help integrate newcomers into our job market and our communities to ensure they stay.

“Considering Nova Scotia’s locally born 18-29 year-old population is predicted to shrink by 25% between 2011 and 2031, our future depends on attracting and retaining immigrants”, said StudentsNS Executive Director Jonathan Williams. “This AAU study confirms what we’ve been hearing directly across the province: international students want to settle in Nova Scotia. The challenge is to create opportunities for them to do so.”

A recent report from the Greater Halifax Partnership, as well as data from Statistics Canada, young people in Nova Scotia are facing an employment crisis. Fully 97% of new jobs between 2006 and 2012 went to workers over the age of 44, while the 15-24 year-olds have lost 9,600 jobs.

“Immigration regulations require that international graduates find permanent work to gain permanent residency, but all young people have been having a really tough time finding permanent jobs here”, said StudentsNS Vice Chair Matthew Rios. “Businesses and all levels of government must do more to create opportunities for all young people in the workforce, including international students and graduates.”

Importantly, StudentsNS research has shown that international students and graduates face particular challenges. They more often lack personal contacts, are unfamiliar with local workplace cultures and at times face discrimination from employers who are reluctant to hire people with “foreign accents.” Ensuring students feel welcome in general is crucial.

“In our research, we’ve found that social connections are almost as important to students’ decisions about immigrating as employment,” said Williams. “Nova Scotia’s future depends on us being welcoming if we want to people to settle here.”

“In this respect, universities have an important role to play. They can make international students feel unwelcome by levying unfair fees that aren’t comparable to the services they receive”, said Rios. “If we all do right by international students we all stand to benefit.”

Students: Nova Scotia has a Youth Employment Crisis

May 23, 2013

For Immediate Release

Halifax, N.S. — The Halifax Index 2013, released yesterday by the Greater Halifax Partnership, found that workers aged 45 and older made up fully 97% of labour force growth between 2006 and 2012. These findings starkly illustrate the barriers younger adults are facing in trying to find jobs across Nova Scotia, at the same time as the local 18-29 year-old population is expected to shrink 25% between 2011 and 2031. More

Report Calls for Fairness in Student Fees and University Funding

May 16, 2013

Halifax, N.S. —Nova Scotia’s universities must be funded more fairly based on students’ and the Province’s ability to pay, says a report released today by StudentsNS. The report, “Fairness in Nova Scotia University Funding: Who Pays and How Much?” recommends linking students’ tuition to their ability to find jobs and supporting education quality through stable and predictable university funding. More

Nova Scotia Needs a Plan for International Students

May 13, 2013

Today the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) released its annual enrolment digest. It showed that in the past ten years the number of Nova Scotia students at Nova Scotia universities has fallen 10.4% while International enrolment has risen 150%.

The news comes as little surprise to Students Nova Scotia. In a report it will release this Thursday, StudentsNS predicts that Nova Scotia universities will have to double their international enrolment over the next twenty years to simply maintain current enrolment totals, so that international students come to represent 28% of the student population in 2030-31.

“With our local and national demographic pressures, universities can no longer bank on major increases in enrolment to expand their budgets,” said Jonathan Williams, StudentsNS Executive Director. “Nova Scotia universities are already heavily reliant on students from overseas to counteract shrinking local and Canadian cohorts.”

Maritime universities’ out-of-province Canadian student numbers increased 40% over ten years, but StudentsNS predicts that the demographic aging trends affecting Nova Scotia are reaching the rest of Canada and will end this growth. Only international student populations are expected to continue growing significantly.

For StudentsNS, the growth in international student enrolment can be a positive change for our universities and most importantly the whole province. Supporting these students, integrating them, and encouraging them to settle here will require a comprehensive strategy though.

“Considering international students’ real and potential economic and cultural contributions and Nova Scotia’s demographics, these students represent a critical opportunity,” said Williams; “but we have to invest smartly in supporting their success and possible settlement.”

Over the coming month, StudentsNS is releasing multiple reports discussing these issues. Thursday’s report explores university system funding from student fees and the Province, recommending changes to enhance affordability, system stability and quality. A second report on international student financing and services will be released in two parts at the end of May and beginning of June.