Bloc Québécois rightly owes the low percentage of visas granted to French-speaking foreigners who come to study in Quebec compared to the percentage granted to English speakers. They are right. But the problem is deeper.
In principle, everyone agrees that our universities should accept foreign students. I have had the opportunity at university level to study in France and China and I can only encourage these exchanges.
The more students go for training in countries different from their own, the more peoples can coexist together and better knowledge will advance.
Unfortunately, the issue of foreign students is not so simple.
In fact, in Quebec, foreign students, with a percentage of more than 80%, come from the following four countries: India (46%), France (25%), the United States (6%) and China (5%).
While our universities are among the best (there are about 20,000 worldwide), the opposite is not true,
Students from many countries do not have real university qualifications. But some university programs, lacking students, are willing to turn a blind eye to the many problems of qualifying foreign students.
English speaking cash cows
Then, it is well known that foreign students are often the cows who pay money to universities.
At McGill University, international students represent approximately 25% of the total enrollment. In Concordia 17%. French-speaking universities generally have less than 10% of foreign students, with the exception of the University of Quebec, where it is around 22%. Moreover, the distribution of foreign students is close to 43% in English-speaking universities and 57% in French-speaking universities.
Two problems arise.
First, English-speaking universities receive a pool of foreign students well above the relative weight of English in the Quebec population. In other words, English-speaking universities drain public resources beyond their real representation.
Secondly, foreign students occupy such a huge proportion in many universities that it is questionable whether they would not replace students here in certain programmes, in medicine for example.
So what is the point of training a Saudi in medicine in our universities knowing that he is likely to return to practice in his own country, in Saudi Arabia? Doesn’t it replace Quebec? In contrast, how many Quebec students will study in Saudi Arabia?
In addition, some countries, such as China, prohibit students and researchers from sharing any data that may be in China’s national interest. Under these circumstances, why do exchanges with Chinese universities continue, especially since the Chinese government has been able for several years to force its citizens to engage in espionage?
International students can certainly be a source of wealth for the Quebec community. However, certain conditions must be met. The first is not to upset the balance between Francophones and Anglophones, and the second not to hurt Quebecers who want places in our universities.
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