International Students as Future Citizens: Understanding the Relation between Universities and Cities

Research team: Chedly Belkhodja, Concordia University; Daniel Salée, Concordia University; Mireille Paquet, Concordia University; Annick Germain, l’Institut national de recherche scientifique; Monica Heller, University of Toronto; Patricia Lamarre, Université de Montréal

The Canadian government has set an ambitious goal to double the number of international students in Canada by 2022. Most of the research bearing on new policies and student flows addresses the transition of international students to permanent residency and the contribution of these highly skilled individuals to the Canadian economy and society. Less attention has been focused on the interactions of international students with their environment.

The study will examine two primary themes: (1) How can universities and the communities in which they operate enhance the adaptation and retention of international students? and (2) What networks might be created for students in order to improve their adaptation and retention?

The research will involve a review of the literature on student mobility and migration in Canada and the role of universities as ‘city builders’, both in metropolises and smaller communities. It will also involve a pilot study of Concordia University’s experience with foreign students and the students’ integration within the city. A distinguishing feature of this study is that it will adopt an ethnographic and anthropological approach to the review and analysis of information gathered from archives, official university documents, reports, web sites and interviews with university administrators, municipal civil servants, community developers, and employers. Workshops will be held with academic and institutional stakeholders to initiate a broad discussion on the impacts and benefits of international students for Quebec’s immigration strategy.