The Impact of International Student Recruitment on the Small Canadian Town (E/SI)

May 7, 2019 | 13:45 - 14:45

Location: Peller D
Track: Going Global

Over the last few years, growth in international student numbers in Canada has far surpassed the goals and expectations of the federal and provincial governments as well as of most post-secondary institutions, particularly those in large urban centres. While many institutions in smaller cities and towns have also experienced rapid, and often unexpected, growth, the impact of this growth is quite different and more significant than in larger cities.

NorQuest College has over 17,000 students and three regional campuses in addition to the main campus in Edmonton, Alberta, a city of over a million inhabitants.  One campus, the Drayton Valley campus, is located almost 2 hours south-west of Edmonton and is in a town of approximately 8,000 people.  Until May 2018, this campus had just a small number of courses and on-campus students.  

Olds College has approximately 1,400 students and is located in Olds, Alberta, a central Alberta town of approximately 9,500 inhabitants.  Olds also has a small campus in Calgary, but its main campus is in the rural and primarily agriculture-based region. Agriculture-related programs are the main focus of the College.

With very little to almost no international presence, each institution received an influx of international students in their small town in summer/fall 2018. In May 2018, through a cohort contract with an authorized agent, Norquest College offered the Business Administration diploma in Drayton Valley to 24 international students and one domestic student. In September 2018, Olds College brought in 33 international students through a block transfer agreement from a private institution in Calgary.  

Each of the two Colleges, through the planning, implementation and evaluation phases, has had to have strategic collaboration with stakeholders at all levels including the provincial government, municipal government, town council, Chamber of Commerce, authorized agent and all the way to local taxi companies, private housing providers, and potential local employers.  With mindful discussions throughout the process, these traditionally more conservative and less internationally-experienced communities have warmly welcomed these international students who are living in the community.

While the experiences have been very positive for the most part, institutions still struggle with the issues related to geographic isolation, lack of transportation, few international amenities (e.g. foods and cultural items), and student expectations.  

Session Speakers

Meghan P. L. McKinnie


Everest Educational Services

Simrit Parmar

Consultant, Business and Program Development, Norquest International

Norquest College

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