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Langara College lags behind on internationalization strategy

Langara College asks students and staff for input on new internationalization strategy

Langara held an internationalization strategy workshop to get feedback from staff and students. Photo by: Lisa Steacy
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Reported by Lisa Steacy

One of the last post-secondary institutions in Metro Vancouver to develop an internationalization strategy, Langara College is now asking students and staff for input in how to integrate an ever-increasing number of foreign students.

In the last four years, the number of international students at Langara has increased from 2,191 to 6,171. With now a third of Langara’s students coming from abroad, the college established a committee to develop and implement an internationalization strategy that held its first forum on Jan. 31.

Langara communications officer Lynette Hawksley, who is part of the committee, said there are already programs and initiatives in place at Langara. She said in an email that Langara needs an “intentional” strategy to measure how well current programs are supporting the increasingly diverse college.

“An internationalization strategy takes account of current initiatives and addresses the gaps,” she said via email. “Developing a strategy should be a unique experience for every institution.”

Other post-secondary schools have already implemented a strategy 

In contrast, SFU implemented its internationalization strategy in the early 2000’s, UBC in 2011 and Douglas College in 2012. Much like Langara, BCIT is also currently working on a strategy.

Internationalization strategies are meant to propose additional programs or services to support staff and students, consider how to infuse an international perspective into curricula and expand opportunities for international research and exchanges.

The committee didn’t provide examples of new programs or services a strategy might create. According to the college’s internationalization strategy timeline, the practical implications of developing and implementing a strategy will not be clear until fall 2018.

According to Kumari Beck, associate professor and co-director of the centre for research on international education at SFU, enrolling more international students in order to increase revenue is not the same thing as having an internationalization strategy.

“Internationalization has been proceeding, much to the alarm of many who are involved in the field, as very much an economic activity,” she said. “As institutions take on more international activity, there’s been a recognition that you just can’t have international activities without actually planning for them.”

Students call for more participation in process

International students Rei Nagaya and Sukriti Kalra attended the Jan. 31 forum and are on the internationalization committee. Both said they would like to see more students—domestic and international—participate in the consultation process.

Nagaya’s advice for building a strategy was, “Not to build a wall between domestic and international students.”

Additional feedback from students and staff will be solicited by survey later this semester.

 

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