International students: Montréal to maintain its strategic position

Montréal, September 25, 2014 – The Montréal Conférence régionale des élus (CRÉ), Montréal International, and institutes of higher education in Montréal and their partners made public an opinion this morning, at city hall, entitled L’urgence d’agir pour attirer et retenir les meilleurs étudiants internationaux à Montréal (urgent need to take action to attract and retain the best international students in Montréal). This position, taken by all the Montréal stakeholders, calls on the governments to promptly eliminate obstacles so that Montréal, its colleges and universities may rise to their full potential, as an international education destination in a highly competitive market.

The opinion pointed out that despite the global explosion in student mobility, and the steadily increasing number of incoming international students, Montréal and Québec is losing ground compared with the rest of Canada. The 26 recommendations in the opinion calls on all stakeholders to work together proactively and coordinate their efforts to attract, welcome, integrate and retain international students.  In more general terms, it urges the Québec government to develop—along with educational institutions in the province—a policy for internationalizing higher education that would allow Québec to deal with the international mobility challenges of the 21st century.

“This pool of young talent, comprising over 25,000 international students registered at colleges and universities—including a third in postgraduate levels, is key to positioning Montréal as a city of knowledge, innovation and creativity. The potential of their contribution merits immediate mobilization so that Montréal remains a top destination for students and to make their stay in Montréal as best as possible. We are confident that the proactive, collective approach that drives Montréal CRÉ and its partners will bear fruit and the government will take the opportunity to cement its leadership in internationalizing higher education,” said Richard Deschamps, Montréal CRÉ Senior Vice-President.


Student mobility growing exponentially

Student mobility is undergoing phenomenal global growth. With the migratory profiles and patterns redefined, the number of international students in OECD nations has risen from 2 million to 4.1 million between 2000 and 2010, and reached close to 4.3 million in 2011. We project that number will reach 6.4 million by 2025. As these students are in high demand for their outstanding potential, western and emerging countries and metropolises are engaged in fierce competition to attract and, if possible, retain these students.

Strategic importance and significant contribution of international students

This foreign talent represents a significant asset for host countries. In 2010, international students produced immediate significant economic spin-offs, amounting to over $1 billion of spending in Québec, the creation of some 10,000 jobs and over $88 million in contributions to the public treasury. With a national degree in hand, a network of contacts and life experience here, once these students graduate, they represent both the ideal immigration pool and excellent Montréal ambassadors abroad.

“Greater Montréal has not yet reached critical mass and we must—now more than ever—attract and retain international students to ensure the metropolis’ economic growth,” said Dominique Anglade, President and CEO of Montréal International. “This is particularly crucial as the global economy is getting more competitive and focused on knowledge, where the availability of talent is a key criterion for foreign investors deciding where to invest,” added Anglade.

In addition to these economic spin-offs, foreign students also make a huge impact on research and development. All higher education institutions agree that it is impossible, in the 21st century, to ensure the quality of education and research without internationalizing knowledge. The vitality of our campuses, the international profile of our universities and the metropolis are reliant on this type of collaborative network. Montréal higher education institutions are thrilled to see all the partners and key decision-makers in the region join forces, as a result of this opinion, to work together to strengthen this incredible asset for our community.

Montréal’s position: advantages to exploit and paths to take

Ranked among the top 10 best student cities in the world two years in a row (2012 and 2013) by British firm QS—ahead of Barcelona, Tokyo, New York and Amsterdam—Montréal can make a compelling case for itself. “Montréal has a lot to offer to international students,” said Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montréal. “As a renowned university and research hub, combining North American and European influences, the city provides an outstanding quality of life that appeals to younger people from every corner of the world, and Montréal in turn thrives on the presence of these students,” added Coderre.

By leveraging these sizeable assets, the Montréal stakeholders propose a series of measures to make Montréal shine among the best and to collectively take advantage of the cultural, social, economic and scientific wealth stemming from the presence of international students in the city.

Among the recommendations issued: simplify the entire immigration process and revise the financing structure of post-secondary educational institutions. This would allow for greater flexibility and to stay in line with the costs associated with recruiting and receiving these students. It was also recommended that there be increased support in internationalizing college education, especially technical programs, by increasing the number of places available at Montréal colleges. Better integration of students in Québec society, on a professional and linguistic level, is also key, as is implementing incentives to retain the best talents.

Origin and signatories of the opinion

The opinion was carried out as part of Montréal CRÉ’s “Montréal, ville apprenante, de savoir et d’innovation” (Montréal, city of learning, knowledge and innovation) initiative, and more specifically its L’ouverture aux citoyens du monde (welcoming citizens of the world) committee. Signatory members: Montréal International, Université de Montréal, McGill University, Université du Québec à Montréal, Concordia University, Polytechnique Montréal, HEC Montréal, École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), Regroupement des collèges du Montréal métropolitain (RCMM), City of Montréal, Forum jeunesse de l’île de Montréal (FJÎM) and the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montréal.

Leave a Reply