The fourth annual International Education Week was held across Canada last week in order to recognize the importance of international students to “Canada, to Canadian educational institutions, and to all Canadians.” The Canadian event was held in conjunction with similar events taking place in over 85 countries.
The Manitoba Council for International Education (MCIE) held a reception in conjunction with the provincial government at the Manitoba Legislature for international students.
MLA Erin Selby announced the creation of a new scholarship program for international students at the reception. The award will honour the “international students of the year,” with the first winners being announced at next year’s banquet, according to Colin Fraser, marketing coordinator for MCIE and marketing and recruitment coordinator for English language studies at the U of M.
The University of Manitoba contributed in its own way to international education appreciation by accepting 80 Brazilian students this fall to study at the university, as part of the Science Without Borders program.
According to the MCIE, the U of M has received the second greatest number of students among Canadian post-secondary institutions involved in the program, exceeded only by the University of Toronto.
Despite the name of the program, Brazilian students will not only be studying in the faculty of science, but also pursuing programs in the faculties of medicine, dentistry, engineering, and nursing, among others.
Brazilian students that arrived at the U of M this fall are beneficiaries of a program initiated by the Brazilian government that will run over the next four years.
According to MCIE, “the Brazilian government will spend $2 billion to help send more than 100,000 of its best students to study internationally in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics faculties around the globe.”
Of the 100,000 students, about 12 per cent will be heading to Canada – the second biggest share of all participating countries. The U of M will be upping its share of that 12 per cent in January, when, according to Fraser, 36 more students will be begin their studies at the U of M.
Steven Rice, a student advisor with extended education, explained that the Science Without Borders (SWB) program is broken down into three main parts. “Students are required to do two academic terms, and an industry or research placement. However, some are also required to partake in additional English language study.”
It was noted that all students are headed to English speaking countries.
“I wouldn’t say that the primary goal of the program is to improve Brazilian students’ ability to speak English, but it certainly is high up on the list,” mentioned Rice.
“Today lots of Brazilian undergraduate students or secondary students lose scholarship opportunities because they do not have good English proficiency [ . . . ] English classes are now mandatory at public schools, but many of them do not provide sufficient guidance to prepare students to study abroad and improve their skills in foreign languages,” said Simone Cristina Da Silva Rosa, a nursing student studying at the U of M with the SWB program.
Colin Fraser, who is involved in supervising the language partner program for international students at the university, reports that thus far students have been very enthusiastic about their time in Manitoba and the program is off to an excellent start. The welcoming community on campus can largely account for that successful transition, says Fraser.
“One of the strengths I’ve seen from the University of Manitoba is that people are very accommodating, from faculty members to students, and I think that extends to Manitoba as well.”
The language partner program that Fraser oversees is a popular method for students to practice English one-on-one with a native speaker, while simultaneously becoming accustomed to Canadian cultural life.
“[Participants in the program] meet with that student at least once a week to practice their conversational English,” says Fraser. “A lot of the time it evolves beyond that. A lot of really genuine friendships come from it.”