Jan. 25, 2001 Vol . 20, No. 2

SFU seeks more diversity

By Carol Thorbes

SFU's dean of student services has struck an international student recruitment advisory committee to investigate ways of diversifying the university's international student population.

"We want our international population to more broadly represent different regions of the world," explains Thevi Pather, associate director of SFU's international and exchange student services.

"Right now 65 per cent of our international students come from Asia. Eight per cent come from our second largest source, Europe; four per cent come from the United States, our third largest source." Pather says Asian students have traditionally been drawn to B.C.'s two largest universities, SFU and the University of B.C., because of the province's economic and cultural ties with the Pacific Rim. "Also the cost of a university education in Canada is about one quarter to one half the cost in the United States."

SFU isn't setting any quotas for attracting international students from specific regions. However, the university is targeting Scandinavia in its recruitment efforts. "We already have a strong visibility in Norway and Sweden and, unlike South America and Africa, these countries offer their students government grants to study abroad."

Pather adds this is particularly advantageous to a university like SFU, which offers only one entrance scholarship to prospective international undergraduates. Only United World College graduates may compete for SFU's International Shrum scholarships.

"We need to look at ways to further internationalize our campus by perhaps funding undergraduate entrance scholarships to students from under-represented regions of the world."

Pather cautions that SFU needs to become more aggressive in attracting international students if it wants to compete effectively with other universities seeking to internationalize their campuses.

He notes British, Australian and American post-secondary institutions often use generous entrance scholarships to lure international students.

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