UPEI boosts recruitment efforts around the globe

With demographic changes, UPEI has had to boost its recruitment game, relying more heavily on international students to increase its student numbers.

'We're always looking for new markets'

UPEI is spreading out its international recruitment efforts to new countries. (Laura Meader/CBC)

As the school year is about to start, UPEI is working hard to attract students — and its recruiters are going further and further to find them.

This year the university has gone into eight new countries trying to attract students, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Latin American countries, and parts of the Caribbean. 

"We're always looking for new markets," said Barb Campbell, director of recruitment and international relations at UPEI.

A group of international students from China and Japan walk around UPEI's campus. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"The demographic has changed, not just in Atlantic Canada but in all of North America, more and more people are choosing not to have as many children … We need to have bodies, whether it's domestic students or international students, we need to have students."

Campbell said all Canadian universities are battling to improve their recruitment figures, making it a highly competitive environment.

Barb Campbell expects international student numbers to keep growing. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Nova Scotia high school student Maddie Tennant was touring UPEI Wednesday and said she'd be visiting several other universities before making a final decision next September.  She hopes to eventually get an education degree. 

"I think they're excited to have people, they're really keen to have you there, it's interesting, it's nerve-racking," she said

"We do not compete with McGill, UBC or Toronto, but we certainly hold our own with universities a lot of times larger than us and in more urban centres," said Campbell. 

UPEI said it is succeeding at bringing in more international students. Five years ago there were 400 international students registered, compared to roughly 1,000 full time international students registered for September 2017. They make up about 20 per cent of the student population. 

"Our intent is to keep growing international," said Campbell.

Recruitment to new areas paying off

UPEI employs agents in different countries to help recruit students. Last year, Rwanda was a new area.

"We've had an extremely good influx of Rwandan students and they are extremely good students," said Campbell.

 The Republic of Mauritius, off the southeast coast of Africa, has also provided dozens of students.

"That first year we got 15 students, the next year we got 11 and this year we're going back," said Campbell.

"Who would have thought Mauritius?" 

Maddie Tennant plans to tour around several universities. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Various international programs

The university is offering a variety of programs to attract international students, including a number of popular short-term summer programs. 

This summer it offered nine different programs primarily to students from Japan and China. Students pay about $1,000 per week to attend the sessions, which focused on developing English language skills. 

This is Sonoko Suzuki's first trip abroad. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Sonoko Suzuki is from Japan, and attended a three-week program. 

"This Island atmosphere is good —It's a very good country, Canada is very kind, and easy to communicate," said Suzuki. 

Hakaru Kamijo said he liked P.E.I. and hoped to return. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Hakaru Kamijo is in the same program. 

"I want to improve my English and pronunciation, so I'm here," Kamijo said. "I like P.E.I. very much." 


Laura Meader is a video journalist for CBC P.E.I.