2014-15 Canada-China Business Forum Magazine - Page 68

EDUCATION Business Innovation Begins in the Global Classroom by KAREN McBRIDE I nternational research collaboration between Canada and China is a critical platform for business innovation across borders. The global classroom has a key role to play in building partnerships. Canada is an education destination of stature and is ranked sixth internationally in attracting international students. The Government of Canada launched in early 2014 its first ever international education strategy, which calls for a doubling of international students in Canada to 450,000 by 2022. Called Harnessing Our Knowledge Advantage to Drive Innovation and Prosperity, this strategy focuses on international students, addressing the skills gap and benefitting the Canadian economy and society as a whole. But it’s not just about attracting more students. In a 2014 Globe and Mail article, Gilles Patry, President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation and former President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, called upon international education stakeholders to ensure that Canada’s reputation as an education destination and world-class research hub 67 EDUCATION not become lost amidst numeric targets. It is not just the number of students choosing Canada, but their learning outcomes and global perspectives which invigorate business in today’s knowledge economy. Patry encourages Canadian institutions to welcome the best and brightest in order to “…produce new technologies, new medical breakthroughs, new insights, and products that will translate into real, long-term economic growth, competitiveness and wellbeing for the country.” Bearing in mind that China is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and is the top country of origin represented in Canada’s international student population, it is important to examine how Canada and China could maximize international education collaboration for innovation. CHINESE SCHOLARS IN CANADA In 2013, 95,160 Chinese students were studying in Canada. A 2014 survey of international students conducted by CBIE revealed that just over 40 per cent of Chinese students in Canada are studying at the graduate or post-doctoral/ fellowship level. In addition to these types of graduate research opportunities, Chinese students were attracted to Canada by the accessibility and expertise of professors and instructors, exposure to Patry is right in highlighting that a competitive advantage of Canada’s education system and business excellence lies in our world-class research environment. According to the Council of Canadian Academies, Canadian researchers have a strong reputation worldwide, accounting for 5 per cent of the top most-cited publications globally. What’s more, Canada’s colleges and polytechnic institutes are increasingly known for their applied research projects in collaboration with industry. Such research intensity in our higher education institutions is supported by strong investment in Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) on the part of Canadian governments, the private sector, private non-profit organizations and foreign institutions. Canada’s R&D expenditure is concentrated in the higher education sector, which received 37 per cent of the total gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) in 2009, compared with an average of 18 per cent among OECD countries. Whether it is an applied research project taking place at La Cité collégiale in Ottawa, an Arctic research consortium led by the University of Toronto or any number of other examples we could cite from across the country, business innovation benefits from research at education institutions and the international connections made with growing markets such as China. In fact, recognizing that international co-operation is fundamental to their continued achievements as premier research bodies, it is no surprise that more and more institutions are putting international research collaboration at the forefront of their strategic plans. The Council of Canadian Academies echoes this priority in a global business context stating, “Canada’s place as a global research leader is essential to enhancing the innovative capacity of Canadian businesses.” CANADA CHINA FORUM BUSINESS 2014-2015 ccbc.com 68