An international “brand” for Canadian education was recently launched, marking the latest national government’s effort to gain market share in the global education sector. Similar in motivation to recent campaigns developed by other countries such as the Netherlands, Malaysia and New Zealand, Canada’s new brand represents one pillar of the federal government’s strategy to recruit greater numbers of international students to Canadian institutions and to promote Canadian education overseas in the increasingly competitive international education marketplace.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), there were over 156,000 international students in Canada in 2007, which translates to roughly 5% of total foreign student numbers (see the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2008 for up-to-date comparative data). In comparison, the US, UK and Australia together receive 45% of all global flows.
Canada’s new logo (pictured to the left) is a jaunty red maple leaf with the bilingual caption “IMAGINE: Education in/au Canada.” According to the CMEC, it is intended to complement existing provincial and institutional efforts by establishing a more easily recognizable national umbrella image, particularly for use in recruitment fairs and exhibitions. Unlike many countries focusing on the university-level market, Canada’s new logo is intended to be used by all levels of education, from primary through to further and higher education.
The fact that Canada has pursued an education brand is noteworthy as it signals a new, perhaps unprecedented, form of collaboration across the different levels of government in relation to international education. As Glen Jones explained in another GlobalHigherEd entry, education remains an issue of provincial and territorial jurisdiction in Canada, meaning that international education policies have generally remained decentralized and uncoordinated. This new brand, however, was developed through collaboration by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s (DFAIT) Edu-Canada Initiative, the provincial and territorial ministries of education and the CMEC, as well as several stakeholder and sectoral representatives. And while provincial responsibility for education is not at question, this multi-scalar and multi-sectoral initiative represents a new structural response to concerns of competitiveness in the international education industry and for the potential labour force gains that foreign students who choose to remain in Canada, post-graduation, represent.