The University of Calgary recently formed the China Regional Advisory Council to address the aims of its international strategy. Chaired by U of C president Elizabeth Cannon, the council includes student and alumni representatives, business leaders and faculty members from research areas such as medicine, engineering and business.
“The purpose of the council is to strengthen the existing partnerships and to build up new partnerships in China,” said vice-provost international Janaka Ruwanpura. “That includes recruiting more students from China, sending students to China for international experience, developing partnerships in research and education and building alumni relations.”
The council’s goal is to have international students make up 10 per cent of the undergraduate population and 25 per cent of the graduate population by 2016.
Over 550 students from China came to study at the U of C this year. The university also has 1,100 alumni living in China, 50 faculty members that were educated in China, 19 institutional partnerships and 13 research partnerships with Chinese institutions.
“The objective of this council is enhancing [relationships] and building up a strong presence in China and developing a strategy plan so we can focus and identify what we plan to do in China in the next three to four years,” said Ruwanpura. “The key thing, I think, is sustainability. We want to make sure that we are going to start something and that it’s not going to die in one year.”
The task force has also identified five regions of emphasis based on existing partnerships, travel patterns of students and faculty and emerging economies. The councils for the Middle East, Mexico, United States, Tanzania and Germany are currently being developed.
“If you look at any top-notch university in the world, they built-up their reputation because of creation of knowledge, dissemination of knowledge and networking with other big institutions,” said Ruwanpura. “I hope to see the U of C become the global intellectual hub of Canada.”
Seventy per cent of U of C students come from Calgary and 70 per cent return to the Calgary market after graduation, limiting their exposure to the global market. The council promotes studying abroad and enriching the international experiences of students.
“Calgary is the fastest growing city in Canada,” said CRAC undergraduate student representative and SU medicine representative Jay Wang. “Without this understanding of this global culture, it is quite difficult for industries to have international collaboration.”
Ruwanpura said he wants to see more U of C students take advantage of international opportunities.
“We want to send a message to the broader campus community, get them interested, maybe provide resources for them to go on those visits and build up their international portfolio,” said Ruwanpura.
There are also programs available for international students coming to the U of C to aid them with the transition.
“When international students come for the first year they can take a year of English upgrading courses to accustom them to the language and culture and help them prepare for their academic endeavours,” said Wang.