International students are changing the makeup of Maritime university courses

There has been a dramatic change in the types of courses undergraduates take in Nova Scotia and the growing number of students from outside the country is contributing to the change.

Enrollment in the humanities – subjects like English and history – has declined by more than a third over the past decade. Last year, only one percent of international students enrolled in these fields at Maritime universities.

Dale Keefe, academic vice-president at Cape Breton University – where humanities enrollment has fallen 88% in a decade – says the school has “filled that void” with international students.

The challenge for the university is that the new cohort of students is not studying the same fields.

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission tracks enrollment, including what areas students specialize in and where they come from. (SRC)

See a breakdown of what international students are studying versus the total enrollment.

Struggling ‘to keep the lights on’

“With a declining local demographics and funding failing to cover the necessary costs, universities had no choice but to develop international students – and develop programs attractive to international students for, in some cases. cases, keep the doors open and keep the lights on, ”Keefe said shortly after returning from a recruiting trip to India.

According to figures from the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, about 29 percent of Maritime students focus on fields that typically fall under a Bachelor of Arts degree, while about 15 percent of international students do. .

Meanwhile, the number of out-of-country students studying in the region has increased by 71% over the past decade, in stark contrast to the decline in the number of Maritime students.

The number of students in Nova Scotia has declined by 18.5 per cent over the same period.

Typically, international students also pay much higher tuition fees than Canadian students.

Keefe says it has been a challenge for his school to meet the demand for courses in business, hospitality, tourism, nursing, engineering and technology.

International marketing of artistic programs

Documents obtained by CBC News in connection with freedom of information requests show that some schools have taken steps to strengthen ties between international students and art classes.

Some schools in the Maritimes are trying to establish partnerships to attract international students to their arts programs. (Rogelio V. Solis / Associated press)

The universities of Saint Mary’s, Cape Breton and Acadia have all been in discussions with Beijing Normal University in China over whether shared programming in schools “could result in increased income or savings.”

The documents also indicate that Saint Mary’s University has an agreement with Beijing Normal University to bring a cohort of students to the province next year to study social sciences.

Brook Taylor, dean of arts and science at Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax, says programs such as human nutrition and business have “grown dramatically” because of international students and the school has started to expand. explore how to increase the number of international students in art classes as well.

International students attracted to business, engineering

According to the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, 39% of international students at universities in the region studied business management and public administration in the 2014-2015 school year.

Programs related to engineering and architecture came second, attracting 15% of international students. Social and behavioral sciences and law attracted around nine percent of international students.

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