Canadian university presidents want more students to study abroad

February 3, 2012

When 25 university presidents gathered in Ottawa last week to discuss Canada's innovation agenda with parliamentarians, some cautioned that more domestic students need to study abroad to foster strong global connections and an instinct to innovate. According to a 2009 survey, just 12% of undergraduate students have an international placement or exchange experience -- reason to worry that the experience of many students is too parochial given the strong demand for the ability to work and think globally. St. Francis Xavier University president Sean Riley was skeptical of his institution's service learning program that sent students to Guatemala to explore topics like the coffee economy, until he made the trip himself. Now he is "fanatical" about developing international connections. "If I had a choice, I’d take the number of students that have a significant international exposure and multiply it by 10 or 20," says Riley. "I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think we actually have a global mindset." Globe and Mail