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A global education: Report urges Canada to send more post-secondary students to learn abroad

U of T students visit Vietnam on a 2016 trip funded by the International Course Module program: (From left) Ongio Tsui, Sarah Tan, Kelly Zhang, Yvonne Xie and Daniel Park (photo by Timothy Tse)

U of T's Munk School of Global Affairs helps spearhead report with University of Ottawa

The Study Group on Global Education – an independent group of educational leaders, business executives and policy experts established under the auspices of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto and the Centre for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa – has released a sweeping report on international learning for young Canadians.

The report, Global Education for Canadians: Equipping Young Canadians to Succeed at Home and Abroad, calls for a dramatic increase in the number of Canadian university and college students participating in international study and traineeship experiences abroad. These experiences are vital to prepare young Canadians – and Canada – to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex and competitive world.

The report highlights the contribution of global education for:

  • Fostering the 21st century skills that Canadian companies say they want in employees: adaptability, resilience, teamwork, intercultural awareness and communication skills;
  • Building the global connections that Canada requires in a world of rising powers and diversified trade partners; and
  • Reinforcing the values of openness and inclusion that are essential to Canada’s success as a diverse and prosperous society, particularly at a time of growing intolerance.

“It’s time for Canada to treat international learning as a national priority,” said Roland Paris of the University of Ottawa, and Margaret Biggs of Queen's University, who co-chaired the Study Group. “We need Canadian students to develop vital skills and global connections by studying and working abroad.”

U of T President Meric Gertler has made global engagement a key university priority.

Read more about the report in the Globe and Mail


“Canada needs young Canadians to be equipped with the skills, competencies and global connections to succeed as leaders, workers and entrepreneurs in an increasingly complex world,” said Randall Hansen, interim director of the Munk School of Global Affairs. 

“Many of the benefits of international learning – including improved academic outcomes and employment after graduation – appear to be strongest for students from less-advantaged backgrounds. A carefully crafted and adequately funded global education strategy would boost the participation of less-advantaged students in international learning, and would equip young Canadians from all walks of life to succeed both at home and abroad.”

Canada’s peer countries, including the United States, Australia, and members of the European Union, have launched ambitious strategies to boost international learning for their students – with striking results.

The report calls for a Canadian global education strategy with clear goals and targets, which include:

  • Boost the percentage of Canadian undergraduate students who participate in international study from 11 to 25 per cent within ten years;
  • To help drive this change, create a new national initiative – Go Global Canada – to support 15,000 university and college students annually to study and/or work abroad as part of their degree programs, rising to 30,000 within ten years;
  • Set a target of 50 per cent of all Go Global Canada students going to emerging countries within 10 years; and
  • Provide targeted support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds so that all young Canadians have the opportunity to benefit from global education.

The report sets out the elements of a pan-Canadian partnership led by the federal government. Provincial and territorial governments, university and college administrators, professors and students, and the private sector all have roles to play.

The full report is available at GoGlobalCanada.ca.