Dal looking at prep college for international students

University proposes contracting educational services to Navitas, an international academic recruiting company.


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Dalhousie University wants to have more international students on campus. Photo: Robert Alfers

Dalhousie University is projecting it will have almost 1,000 fewer Maritime students by 2015 and is looking for other ways to increase overall enrolment.

The university believes bringing in more international students is the answer and is looking to partner with academic recruiting company Navitas.

"They have a much bigger recruiting reach than we will ever have," said University Vice-President (Academic and Provost) Alan Shaver.

"And they've invested a lot of money over the years to get where they are."

Shaver gave a presentation to the Dalhousie Student Union last night explaining the school's plans.

The Australian-based company, which has about 1,300 recruiters worldwide, would help set up a small college within the university.

How the college works

In the past, when international applicants met Dalhousie's academic requirements, they could enroll. If they didn't meet the requirements they were denied.

That's what Navitas would change.

For those who don't quite meet the requirements, but the company believes they could eventually be successful university students - Many don't qualify because of language barriers and not being able to take all the required introductory classes in high school - the new college would offer two types of university preparation courses:

  • Classes that upgrade the student's high school background. (non-credit program)
  • Classes equivalent to introductory/first-year university classes. (12-month credited classes)

Dalhousie would also have full control over the curriculum and the selection process of the instructors, making it easier for those coming out of the college to move into regular university classes.

Shaver said the college would start small (30-50 students), then after a few years expand to the proposed maximum of 500 students.

Students would pay Navitas the equivalent of Dalhousie international student tuition, and Navitas would pay Dalhousie royalties and fees for the use of resources.

Dalhousie would not pay anything to Navitas.

The students would also receive extra assistance, from instructors and advisers, in their studies. As well, they would have more help in finding housing and adjusting to life in Halifax - things Shaver believes Dalhousie needs to improve.

"We don't pay enough attention to the needs of international students," said Shaver.

"You know, (for) most of the schools that are really good at fostering the success of international students, it's the small stuff too."

"The success rate of Navitas is better than ours"

Only about 70 per cent of international students stay at Dalhousie after their first year.

Shaver said working with Navitas, which has partnered with universities in 19 different countries, would help raise this number because they are experienced in an area Dalhousie lacks.

"They specialize in first-year transitions for international students. We're not good at that."

Navitas has already established colleges with two Canadian schools - the Fraser International College at Simon Fraser University and the University of Manitoba's International College Manitoba.

Shaver added that Navitas' presence across the world - it enrolls about 27,000 students from more than 90 different countries - would help improve Dalhousie's reputation.

As well, he said that every university that has partnered with Navitas plans to renew their contracts - a testament to the company's effectiveness.

"The success rate of Navitas is better than ours...to get Navitas involved, first of all, we'll have more successful international students, and we'll learn how to do [treatment of international students] better."

Shaver said his office must still present the idea to the Dalhousie Senate, and the college could start operations as early as next year.



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