Group says Nova Scotia could do more to keep international students
Pilot project to keep international students in Nova Scotia doesn't address barriers says federation
The Canadian Federation of Students for Nova Scotia said a new pilot program announced by the government to keep international students in Nova Scotia is "very encouraging," but doesn't address barriers those students consistently bring up.
The pilot project, announced on Saturday, aims to support 50 international students during their last year of post-secondary studies. The province said many of those students are "completing their studies in priority areas" like health care, computer engineering and ocean sciences.
Support includes career mentoring, access to employment-related events, activities and workshops. Local employers will be offered a subsidy to offset the cost of hiring students for a work term after they graduate.
The Nova Scotia government and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will invest $288,812 each in the pilot program.
"The intention to help international students stay here in the province is great but when it's a program that helps 0.5 per cent of international students, we have to ask how much is this program really accomplishing," said Charlotte Kiddell, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students in Nova Scotia.
'Broader action' needed
Kiddell said what the pilot project doesn't address is barriers international students have brought up. Those include regulation of "differential fees" paid by international students, and access to medical services insurance coverage.
"There are approximately 7,500 international students studying in Nova Scotia.... What we really need is broader action that will help international students studying in Nova Scotia across the board," said Kiddell.
In an e-mail response, a spokeswoman for the Department of Labour and Advanced Education said the pilot program is underway, and is only one of several things the government is doing to attract, support and retain international students.
The province recently launched another pilot program aiming to recruit students from "key markets," and two new business "immigration streams" attracting international entrepreneurs and retaining international graduates from Nova Scotia universities and colleges.