In an increasingly globalized world, a transnational education is often seen as valuable capital, but the students don't necessarily need to travel outside their own borders to access a Canadian education.
Not only does Canada have an opportunity to increase its international student presence within its own borders, but, according to experts, Canadian postsecondary schools should be looking more at setting up campuses and programs abroad to benefit the economy, as well as fill in the gap in certain labour markets.
"When we have the opportunity we should do what corporations are doing and move to the marketplace," says Dezso Horvath, dean of York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto. "As the world is growing, it cannot only go one way. Not everybody from India … [and] China wants to come here."
For instance, in an effort to become one of the world's leaders in transnational education, last year Schulich began offering its business students the opportunity to study at its new campus located at the GMR School of Business in Hyderabad, India.
"Our idea is not to create an Indian business school, but a global school located in India," he adds.
And it is not just degree programs, there is a demand for vocational training from Canada for a Canadian education abroad, says Stewart Beck, president and chief executive officer of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.
"I think there is a tremendous opportunity in places like India, the Philippines, Indonesia – those countries where the youth demographic is very large … and you want people to have employment to provide more stability for the economy."
Mr. Beck has worked with several partners in these countries to offer vocational training from a Canadian certified program and says not only does it boost these economies, but it could help with one of Canada's greatest future economic challenges: a skilled labour shortage.
"You might train 300 people in a class in India of which 250 might go work in the Persian Gulf, maybe we want to take 50 in Canada," he says. "It gives us that option to take a look at that."
But while he says that having a Canadian certificate could be "an attractive element in the immigration process," that should not be the main objective. "The goal isn't to make it an immigration alternative; you are actually there to skill the people and provide them with a quality education that they want and deserve."
But the risk to Canadian postsecondary institutions of setting up shop abroad is diluting the reputation of the programs – something Australia learned the hard way.
A report entitled International Education Services released in April by the Australian Productivity Commission – an independent advisory group – points out the country's need for "quality regulation" after a slew of "rogue colleges" popped up during the country's international education bubble between 2007-09. Many were shut down and the country's transnational education (TNE) sector took a two-year downturn.
The 160-page report outlines advice for government officials to deal with TNE quality-control, and also outlines the many challenges because "Australia's transnational education services (delivered in other countries) are by their nature less amenable to quality assurance through regulation and represent an ongoing risk to Australia's reputation for high quality education services."
Maintaining the quality of Canadian degree, diploma and certificate programs is a continuing concern, Mr. Beck says. But he adds that finding the right partner is a crucial part of taking Canadian programs overseas.
"You have to have the right type of partner to help you with that process," he says. "It's always a challenge to do the research necessary to develop the relationships necessary to be comfortable about the partner that you are working with, but it's worth it."