Friday, 03 August 2018 10:26

Great Plains College to welcome more international students

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More international students will have an opportunity to further their education through programs offered by Great Plains College. The college is expanding its international program and additional enrolment options are now available for international students at both the Kindersley and Swift Current campus.

 

The 11-month power engineering (fourth and third class) program in Kindersley as well as the nine-month administrative assistant certificate program and the two-year business diploma program in Swift Current are now open to international students.

According to Kristy Sletten, the manager of admissions and international at Great Plains College, the expansion of the program is a growth opportunity for the college and there are many benefits to welcoming more international students.

“The opportunities for the college to internationalize our classrooms, to provide domestic students the opportunity to have a more global view of many different aspects, even in terms of just conversations in our business program, and then having all of the different viewpoints from around the world is an invaluable piece of education that we can now provide our Great Plains College students,” she said. “There’s so many different offshoots that come from an international program within the institution – economically, culturally and within the community.”

A few international students were previously enrolled in the administrative assistant and business certificate programs at the Swift Current campus, but more resources are now devoted to the international program as a result of the expansion of this initiative.

The program was in operation for one year prior to my employment,” she said. “My position is the first position devoted to international education with Great Plains College and this is the first year that we’ve actively recruited international students.”

She has been working at the college for five months and in March she went on a two-week international recruitment trip to India and the Philippines to meet with recruiting agents and to promote the college.

“My background is in international education and I’ve recruited in many different countries, and the response that we got in India was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before,” she said. “The number of students that were coming out to presentations, the number of agents who were vying for appointments and meetings. It was really incredible to see.”

The college is partnering with M Square Media, a Canadian company that specializes in international student recruitment. It assists post-secondary institutions to promote their international programs in different countries and it has been active in India, the Philippines and Africa.

“There are so many students from India who are interested in studying in Canada,” Sletten said. “So it was a great first move for us because we were able to garner the number of applications that we needed to hopefully fill the seats that we have.”

As a result of this trip the college has received over 70 applications for the 24 seats that are available in the international program when classes resume in the fall. She is confident the successful applicants for these seats will receive their visas before the start of the new semester.

“I do feel we have vetted the applicants carefully and that we have chosen people who have a good chance of getting their visa,” she said. “M Square Media has helped us choose people who they feel have the best opportunity to get a visa. So now the rest is in the hands of Immigration.”

Great Plains College is working with the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre to help the students settle in the community where they will be studying.

“They’ve been fantastic to work with and once the students get visas, they’re going to help us find housing for the students,” she said. “They’ve offered to help the students find employment. They’ve offered to provide students with some settlement assistance.”

Sletten feels the smaller size of Great Plains College compared to larger post-secondary institutions will be a real benefit to international students. They are coming to a foreign country and the adjustment will be easier at an institution where class sizes are smaller and there are additional support available to them.

“The level of support that they get, the more community type environment that allows them to feel more welcome and secure are reasons why Great Plains College is a sounder choice for many international students,” she said.

Some of these international students might be interested in a future career and life in Canada, and it is also an advantage for them to come to Saskatchewan.

“The province of Saskatchewan has one of the best transitions to permanent residence programs in the country, the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program,” she said. “That program allows students to start working towards their permanent residence application process while they study.”

Great Plains College is looking forward to expanding and growing the international program in future years. There are discussions about opening other programs for enrolment by international students and also to include the Warman campus in the international program.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to grow the numbers exponentially each year as different programs open up and as our reputation as a quality institution becomes more well-known in the world,” she said.

There might be additional recruitment trips in the future and the intention will be to increase the diversity of international students in the program.

“Many of our students will be from India,” she said. “So we’re looking to build some diversity into our program and ensure that we have a presence in all parts of the world, but that takes some time to develop as well.”

Read 160 times Last modified on Thursday, 02 August 2018 17:32
Matthew Liebenberg

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