The Global Competition for International Students as Future Immigrants: The Role of Ontario Universities in Translating Government Policy into Institutional Practice


Funding Program:

Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario

Funding Amount:


This project examines the implications for the roles and responsibilities of Ontario universities in offering programs and services to international students, given Ontario’s policy imperative to target international students as permanent residents. Through a comprehensive mapping exercise, this project proposes to offer a system wide perspective on gaps in alignment of policy and practice, establish key benchmarks for international student programs and services and propose globally competitive best practices.

Three main research questions will guide this study:

  • How are provincial and national policies to attract international students as future immigrants acknowledged by Ontario universities in their mission statement/goals/visions and/or strategic plans? What is/are the explicitly and implicitly stated role of the universities in relation to these provincial/national policies?
  • What are the range and types of programs and services offered for international students by Ontario’s universities? How do these programs and services meet the academic, social and professional engagement needs of international students? How do they meet the needs of international students over their student life cycle, in particular post-graduation and employment?
  • What do university staff perceive as factors that facilitate and hinder the transition of international students as future immigrants? What do they perceive as strengths and gaps in their programs and services in supporting international students as future immigrants? How do they think government policies (national/provincial) have impacted the international student experience and international student-oriented services and programs?

The project addresses three key policy concerns for Ontario’s higher education system: quality and global competitiveness, student experience and success, educational outcomes and labour market pathways. While the role of universities in preparing students for careers and as citizens is widely recognized, it is seldom clearly articulated, especially for international students. This research project will provide a framework to have informed discussions on institutional policies in the context of changing provincial/national policy environments and the sharing and development of effective good practices. It will contribute to our understanding of how research policy and practice interrelate; how they act upon one other; and how research can get translated into practice.