Our November Speaker was Dr. Graham Pike, Dean of International Education at VIU.
After 40 years of teaching, 30 of which have been in International Studies, it was evident that Dr. Pike continues to be passionate about his love of teaching and fostering the international students who have become an integral and essential part of VIU.
Dr. Pike’s talk focused on the education program offered foreign students who, in 2016 -2017, numbered over 2300 and who came to Nanaimo from over 80 different countries. He presented us with some interesting facts:
- VIU is unique in that it is the only university with a dedicated faculty of International Studies.
- Both foreign and local students may attend the private high school on campus. In either case the fee is about $8000/year.
- Typically, the number of Chinese students is always at the top.
- A country’s economy can affect the number of foreign students they export: For example, the number of students from Saudi dropped from 350 to 230 as the price of oil fell.
- Economic growth in certain countries (Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Viet Nam) has brought more foreign students to VIU from those countries.
- Germany is the leading country for promoting foreign students abroad.
With strong world-wide competition for foreign students, VIU recruiters travel the world with permanents offices in Maize (Germany), Delhi, Ho Chi Min City, and Beijing.
Programs for VIU foreign students include an English language program, language and culture programs, customized group training and study abroad.
Foreign students can receive a great deal of support when they come to VIU: Counseling, homestay (500 beds in residence or living with a local family) , grocery shopping, immigration workshops, peer help, and organized activities.
Over $800,000 in scholarships was available to students in 2016 -2017.
Dr. Pike also discussed partnerships with other universities and colleges around the world and the engagement of students and faculty in international projects.
The primary goal of VIU is to help create a Global Community rather than an economic one. There is no denying however, that with tuition at $35,000/year, economic factors come into play. With steady decline in government funding, international students are essential to the very survival of VIU.
The goals for 2018 – 2020 are: to increase the number of foreign students from 18 to 20%, to provide even more diversity of countries and programs and to foster global literacy.
Report by Steph Smith