When you tune in to CBC-TV to watch the Beijing Olympics in 2008 you may see the work of Qi Ma, one of Lakehead's multi-talented International students.
Qi (pronounced chee) Ma is a thirty-three-year-old Chinese journalist who came to Thunder Bay to practice speaking English. She stayed on to earn a Master’s degree in Education, to become a Canadian citizen, and to move closer to her goal of becoming a university professor.
Along the way, she landed a contract position with CBC-TV Sports to work as a senior researcher, developing documentary programs about her home country for broadcast during the Olympic Games.
Ma is typical of many International students who have discovered the tremendous value of studying at Lakehead University – a safe campus away from the hustle and bustle of Canada’s large urban centres. She says she is grateful to Lakehead University and considers Thunder Bay to be her “lucky place.”
In 2006-07, Lakehead had 187 International/Exchange students on campus from approximately 40 countries around the world.
“Lakehead and Thunder Bay are wonderful places to experience Canadian culture and education,” says Gary Boire, Dean of Graduate and International Studies. “With the full-time staff in our office dedicated to meeting each individual’s needs, our International students don’t get lost in the shuffle.” There are a total of seven staff in the Office of Graduate and International Studies including Wendy Bons, an International Officer, whose responsibilities include recruitment, student exchange (incoming and outgoing), as well as the management of partnerships abroad, and Miriam Lappala, an International Student Advisor who provides support services for international and exchange students attending Lakehead University.
Educating students to be global citizens is part of Lakehead University’s mission and strategic plan, says Boire. “International students enrich the cultural, intellectual, social, and political life of everyone on campus… All of our students are learning that our world is a much more complicated and multi-hued place, and that we’re all in this together.”
Boire is especially pleased to see that, under the federal government’s new work-study program, International students may choose to work up to 20 hours per week off campus. When he sees Lakehead students working with various organizations in Thunder Bay he is reminded of the economic and social benefits International students bring to the community as a whole.
Tuition for International students at Lakehead is relatively low compared to other Canadian institutions. In fact, Lakehead’s Vice-President (Academic) and Provost Laurie Hayes says it is less expensive for American students, paying International fees, to get a degree from Lakehead than from some of their state-funded universities!
Hayes has represented Lakehead at various recruitment fairs south of the border, and she recently travelled to India and China. There, she discussed opportunities for graduate and undergraduate student exchanges, faculty exchanges, and joint research.
As well, she explored joint funding opportunities with Indian and Chinese institutions such as Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, Noida, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India; Jaypee University of Information Technology, Waknaghat, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India; and the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, in the province of Sichuan, China.
Lakehead’s current International recruitment strategy is to concentrate on India, China, and the Caribbean. “We chose to focus on China because of our track record,” says Boire. “And India and the Caribbean because they are English speaking jurisdictions.”
Limited budgets require that Lakehead be extremely focused and creative when it comes to International recruitment, he says. By restricting the number of countries where Lakehead actively recruits, the University is in a much better position to cultivate long-lasting and effective relationships.