Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Issue 24 - Evidence - Meeting of April 18, 2013


OTTAWA, Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade met this day at 10:32 a.m. to study economic and political developments in the Republic of Turkey, their regional and global influences, the implications for Canadian interests and opportunities, and other related matters.

Senator A. Raynell Andreychuk (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Honourable senators, the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade is continuing its examination of economic and political developments in the Republic of Turkey, their regional and global influences, the implications for Canadian interests and opportunities, and other related matters.

In this session, we are very pleased to welcome two further witnesses, Mr. Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director of Languages Canada; and Mr. Bryan Henderson, Director of Professional Training and Development at the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs of Carleton University.

You are very important witnesses to us because we have heard so much about education and language training. If you can add to that in a global way, but also particularly with respect to Turkey and comments with Canada's opportunities, it would be very helpful and we would be grateful.

Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director, Languages Canada: Honourable senators, thank you very much for receiving me and receiving us today. It is a pleasure to be here and to contribute to this fountain of knowledge that you are accumulating. It is particularly interesting to speak about Turkey because Turkey is one of those places that is a bit of an enigma to the language education sector in Canada. I prepared some notes. I will make a brief presentation and then be open for questions.

I am sure you have heard some of this before, but international education is growing and it is no different in Canada. There are 3 million international students at this point around the globe travelling from country to country immersing themselves in different languages and educational endeavours. In Canada, the international education sector grew from 6.5 billion in 2010 to 8 billion in 2012. That is not insignificant growth. These are export revenues at a time when exports are decreasing in so many sectors for Canada. At a time when the Canadian dollar is so strong, you really must ask yourself why international education is growing.

I think that there are a number of reasons for that. The first one is quality. We really do have, and people chastise me for putting it this way, the best educational system in the English- and French-speaking world. That has been recognized by the OECD and by UNESCO, and those who chastise me are usually our competitors, so I have no problem in stating that.

There are very direct benefits from international education. Diversity and internationalization of our own education is very important, of course. The revenue to Canadian institutions is very important, of course. Apart from that, consider the impact on the Canadian brand through education, our image, the long-term relationships and networks that are built, and the respect for Canada that is fostered. Our very best immigrants probably come through this system. The value is far more than just the revenues as an export sector.

I am the executive director of a little association that is called Languages Canada. We have about 190 member programs across the country. They include the top universities and colleges and also private sector programs, English and French. All these programs are accredited; they are all inspected; they are all good quality programs. Of the 250,000 international students that come to Canada, 150,000 of them come to our member programs. That was in 2011. The figures for 2012 will be available within a month.

We really do have one of the top quality sectors if not the top language sector in the world. I think this is natural. Many studies have shown the correlation between academic and professional performance and linguistic competence. It stands to reason that if we have the top educational system in the world, it is impossible not to have the top language education sector in the world. This is something that Canadians should be extremely proud of.

Why is language education of strategic importance? First, we are an enabler. Nothing really happens in international education without language. It is impossible. The number of international students that we receive from French- and English-speaking countries is negligible. It is really from non-English- and French-speaking countries. We are an enabler.

As well, we are the pathway to further education. We are the pathway to top immigrants. We are supportive of the Canadian identity, and I think it is safe to say that language and bilingualism are really cornerstones of Canadian identity. Let us celebrate language education in that context. We are pioneers and ground breakers.

Language educators live and die through registrations. It is a very pragmatic, practical, down-to-earth sector. We must have students. We do not have a choice but to be good recruiters. That is it, period. We open markets, and we are also the canary in the mine. When markets start to go sour, it is our sector that gets hit first. As an indicator, language education is very important.

We are a fundamental contributor to education, of course, but not just that. Think of 150,000 students in Canada and what that does to tourism, the labour market and immigration. Our contribution to the $8 billion a year is about $2 billion. There is also the employment that comes from that and the Canadian families that host international students. These 150,000 students must stay somewhere and, for the full Canadian experience, they stay with families.

With respect to taxes, the HST derived from export revenues from students attending our member institutions is $68 million a year. It is not a negligible amount. Now, you can say any sector provides tax revenue, but we are talking about HST tax revenue from an export, so these are students that are coming in with money in their pockets, spending in Canada. Of course, this is all going into our coffers.

Other sectors affected include transportation, restaurants, food, tourism and telecommunications. I do not know if any of you have ever seen a student without a cellphone. It is a rare sight, indeed.

Regarding our current challenges, immigration is the top one. Immigration policy and regulation is our top challenge, and many things have been done by the current government to try to steer us in the right direction. We are working closely with CIC on these matters. As for our own regulation, it is ironic that language education is unregulated in a country like Canada, where language is so important. In that vacuum, our members have stepped in through our own sector-led regulations.

Regarding fragmentation, working with the provinces, the territories and the federal government is like herding cats. It is a tough slog out there.

Our next challenge is growth. We have grown so much over the last few years, but there is so much more to do and we are looking at new frontiers.

The reason I accepted the invitation today is that Turkey is an enigma for us. We do not understand. We have been there twice leading trade missions. This year will be our third time, and after this one, we are already asking ourselves whether we should bother returning. In 2010, we had 1,500 students from Turkey; in 2011, we had 1,300 students from Turkey. We do not understand. Why would Turkey represent less than 1 per cent of our total student population? The reason we do not get it, of course, is that in 2011 there were 55,000 Turkish students that went abroad to study. Turkey for us should be like Brazil. Two thirds of all Brazilians that travel to learn a language come to Canada. We own that market. Turkey should be the same time for us.

The question is why? We should have 15,000 Turkish students here. There is no reason. They have the money, they want to come, but when we look at the reasons, I think one is certainly immigration policy and operations. That has been a real block to this particular export source. Of the 3 million international students floating around the world right now, 75 per cent of them use educational agencies. I think that stands to reason. If I want to send my son or my daughter abroad, I want someone I trust. If I want to send my son or daughter to Turkey, I do not know anyone in Turkey, but if there is someone here that I can trust that can place my student in a good institution in Turkey with a good family and that has a reputation for doing so, then I will use that person. The same thing happens all over the world.

That poses a problem for Canada because we have legislation against crooked immigration consultants, and these educational agencies fall into this grey cloud. Canada is the only leading international education country that does not support educational agencies. The U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and France provide training to these people. They welcome them in. We do not. Our immigration officers in Ankara will not even meet with them. This is a big block, and I am not blaming our officers posted abroad. This is policy and leadership.

So many visas have been denied or delayed that in Turkey, like a few other countries, these agents are basically saying it is not worth it and will not promote Canada any more. That is a very sad thing for all of us, and I think it sends the wrong message.

The notion that language students are a risk is an old one that needs to be overcome. We also must face the reality that there is a combination of cutbacks to government and revenue distribution that does not support sector growth; that is within CIC. There are new policies coming up that we hope will resolve some of these issues, but the next step for us is to fix the immigration issue and finally to enter Turkey for offshore. The next big growth for Canadian education in terms of exporting is not to bring students here, but strategically to establish Canadian education in those markets. We recently led a trade mission to Brazil for exactly that purpose, and that means that Brazilian universities, colleges and governments will begin using Canadian curriculum, Canadian testing, Canadian teachers and Canadian know-how. This is our next growth. This is the future for us, and we have much to offer.

Thank you very much.

Bryan Henderson, Director of Professional Training and Development, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University: Good morning. Thank you for this invitation.

Thank you, Mr. Peralta, for your presentation. I learned a great deal. This is something that is near to my heart as well in some past iterations of my professional career.

[Translation]

My French is not very good, so I will speak in English.

[English]

Let me begin by saying I am the director of a non-credit union at Carleton University. We are quite unique. The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs is a graduate institution. It offers masters and doctoral degrees in international affairs. We are the only school among the association of professional international affairs schools that has a dedicated non-credit professional training unit. I would like to recognize my predecessor, Natalie Mychajlyszyn, who was the first director of that unit.

I come to you today to give testimony as an individual and as a professional. I have a long history with Turkey, starting personally. I travelled there extensively as a young man, and I matured there in some way. I was lucky enough to return several years later. When I was running my own company, and I was running youth international internship programs, we had the opportunity for two years, through a company called Springtec International Consulting that was an implementing organization under the Department of Foreign Affairs YIP program, to offer youth international internships in Istanbul, and we did that essentially through the Istanbul chamber of commerce.

That allowed me the opportunity to work and to live there for a short period of time and to see a great deal of Turkey. I am pleased that I have an opportunity to come back today and talk to you about my experiences, both personal and professional.

As to our most recent interest in Turkey, I think the word that describes it is ``serendipity.''

Let me tell you briefly what I do at the office of professional training and development. We have a very niche set of programs and courses that we offer to professional communities in areas where we offer graduate education. Our courses are rooted out of diplomatic training, which we offer to international clients, but they are also offered locally in short form, essentially, for federal public servants but also for the international community overall, the diplomatic community in Ottawa and for the various international secretariats that are working with the federal government and with the non-profit community.

Those courses include professional etiquette, protocol, negotiation, and policy analysis. We also offer unique programs in critical infrastructure protection, namely, oil and gas pipeline security, in cooperation with our trainers from HPI — Hugh A. Palmer, Inc. in Canmore, Alberta. As well, we are initiating several other unique programs that include our most recent initiative in performance audit. This is at the government level with clientele being government offices of the Auditor General internationally.

This past year, we attempted to launch our critical infrastructure program in the gulf. We were very close to success but for various reasons it fell apart. We had a commitment from clientele that generally comes to us as open registration clients. This is very similar to what Mr. Peralta was saying about language educators being at the front line of the education business model. The business is there, the business can go through. If the business is not there, there are no opportunities and you have to move to the next market.

We had the clientele but did not have an opportunity to launch our programs in the gulf. We needed an opportunity to take a step back, and we moved quickly to Turkey where my trainers had a previous relationship. It dawned on me that we had not thought about this before. We realized that Turkey was an ideal place to offer our training, not only this specific training in critical infrastructure protection but also all of our training. Within the last two months, we have been exploring this. I would like to say that serendipity keeps popping up. I will present for you an initiative that is being undertaken by Carleton University. It is the modern Turkish studies program. This is being launched by Professor Emeritus Dr. Ozay Mehmet. Carleton University will have a program within the next year that will focus on contemporary Turkish studies. It will have a funded chair, and I believe the selection committee for that position will be launched in approximately one year.

In the course of initiating or setting up our program in Istanbul recently, I was able to reconnect with many of my former colleagues in Istanbul and Turkey and former alumni from NPSIA, the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs. I was pleased to reconnect with my old partner at Springtec International Consulting Inc., a small firm located in Burnstown, Ontario. It is now a Turkish company firmly established in Istanbul. Over the course of the last month and continuing in the months to come, we have initiated a series of activities to establish with them our training presence in Turkey.

Our idea initially is not to look at Turkey as the clientele but to be the international focal point. It would be an understatement to say that Turkey is strategically located. It is a wonderful location for bringing European, African and Middle Eastern clientele to our training programs. I should say that I cannot speak to the issue of post-graduate education, although for three years I was employed with the Canadian Bureau for International Education, which was essentially part of my responsibilities. I can respond to any questions that you may have regarding the issues that Mr. Peralta will also speak to related to education in Canada. I can provide you with some information on our specific programs, how we are addressing our presence in Turkey and how we want to approach our presence there. I would also like to highlight that we have some unique programs and are trying to make them world class programs. We believe that by launching them in Turkey, we will have an opportunity to do so.

I will hold back on any further remarks except to say that realizing that Turkey was an opportunity for us has allowed us to refocus our attention. We are interested in setting up our programs in Turkey, and we hope that we will achieve some success in the short term. Thank you for your time.

[Translation]

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: First of all, I am pleased to have heard your very informative presentations.

In February 2013, the Canadian Association of Public Schools — International, a non-profit organization that brings together 90 school boards and districts across Canada, announced that it would carry out its first mission in April 2013. Are you aware of this mission? Do you know if it has taken place — because it is April — or is it planned for next week?

Mr. Peralta: We work very closely with that association, given that we are a founding member of a consortium that includes CAPS, Languages Canada, the Canadian Bureau for International Education, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges. This is the first trade mission being carried out like this, and I think it was to take place in early April.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: The mission has taken place.

Mr. Peralta: Basically, yes. I have a meeting with them right after this.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: My questions are for Mr. Peralta, because you mentioned that it was not easy for Canadian educational institutions to attract Turkish students. You also said that this could be resolved by improving the immigration situation. Are Turkish educational institutions receptive to partnering with Canadian institutions? Or is it more of a decision on the part of the Turkish government not to encourage sending Turkish students to Canada?

Mr. Peralta: It is certainly not a government decision. The decision of international students most often lies with the students themselves and their families. It is not a lack of will on their part, but a matter of obstacles on ours. That is the short answer. I am not an expert in post-secondary education, but based on what I have heard from my university colleagues, at that academic level, academic programs are not very easy to coordinate. There are all kinds of agreements that must be established and all kinds of things that must be explored before really being able to coordinate them this way. However, with respect to language, it is not a matter of will. They want to come or, at least, wanted to come. There are so many refusals and delays in the visa process that it becomes difficult for them.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: To help them come to Canada, do you have any other recommendations beyond dealing with our immigration problems?

Mr. Peralta: I would say representation and promotion to have a stronger presence in Turkey. It is an exceptional country that is growing quickly, as we all know. As a result, our presence there is very important.

I had some statistics with me about the number of young Turks who wanted to leave the country because there were no spots in their own colleges and universities. There were not enough spots, and they did not have a choice.

Education is a fairly special area: when things are going well, people invest in education, and when things are not going well, people invest in education. It is quite a unique sector. I will try to find that information for you.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Thank you very much for your answers.

Senator De Bané: Who are Canada's main competitors in the western world, in terms of education, for attracting students from Turkey?

Mr. Peralta: Australia, Great Britain and the United States are major competitors. As for French-speaking countries, there is France, obviously. Aside from that, there are other, smaller players like South Africa, New Zealand and Ireland.

Senator De Bané: I am looking at our success in Brazil. How is it that we have been successful in Brazil but not Turkey? If I understand correctly, Brazilians must also get a visa to enter Canada.

Mr. Peralta: Absolutely.

Senator De Bané: How is it that Canadian universities are managing to attract students from Brazil but not from Turkey?

Mr. Peralta: One small clarification. In 2011, we had 18,000 Brazilian students in our language programs in Canada. It was not universities or colleges that drew them here. The colleges and universities have always found it difficult to attract students from Brazil, and it has been only recently, with an effort by the Brazilian government called ``science without borders,'' that we have had an indication that we would be receiving 11,000 university students in the next few years. However, among those who went and who managed to attract Brazilians were the language programs. That is why I said in my presentation that languages are at the forefront in education. We are the first.

Your question about the difference between Turkey and Brazil is an excellent one. I, myself, would like to understand it better. It is too easy to say that it is a visa issue. I know that we have very competent visa officers in Turkey, but I think the classes are very clear and diverse in Brazil, and the risks of fraud there are better controlled. Perhaps it is not understood as well in Turkey.

Senator De Bané: Right.

[English]

Mr. Henderson, what are the Canadian universities doing to attract university students from Turkey to attend university in Canada and do their studies here? We have something to offer: North American technology, et cetera. Nothing is more highly desirable than to be able to do studies in North America. What should the Canadian universities be doing?

Mr. Henderson: I can offer some opinion, but I cannot answer your question outright. I will tell you that at my time at the Canadian Bureau for International Education the focus was to look for markets writ large. The universities that were participants of that bureau used the bureau's activities and looked for direction, but all universities also have their own international offices.

I can tell you that at Carleton University the focus has been to look at BRICS, to go into the emerging markets and to establish relationships with Brazil, India and China. Carleton University has done that. Within the last year we have our Confucius Institute set up so we have a close relationship with China; we have the Canada-India Centre. These are all the products of the efforts of Carleton University.

I cannot speak to the issue of Turkey being on the radar in terms of attracting students. I know that when I was a student at Carleton there were a tremendous number of Turkish students and I imagine there are still a fair number of Turkish students at Carleton. The attraction there, of course, was our technology, our Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; our aerospace and science programs were very attractive and I imagine that they still are.

In terms of a concerted effort, I will admit my own failing in knowing Turkey well, over 25 years, and not considering that country as an option for a baseboard to offer my programming abroad. It was just a sudden realization that it was an omission. I am offering only an opinion, but I suspect that may be the case with many institutions as well — Turkey is not on the radar.

Senator Johnson: Could we talk a bit about numbers? Our study group that went to Turkey was only able to determine that there were 356 Turks studying in Canada with their own funds and 12 with government scholarships. Last year our Department of Citizenship and Immigration said there were 1,600 foreign students studying in Canada. Do you have any clarification for us on how they are getting here and how many more are paying their way or are being funded?

Mr. Peralta: We will have numbers for 2012 coming out within a month. At that point I can provide something concrete for you.

Senator Johnson: Okay.

Mr. Peralta: Part of the problem we have with data, which is important in terms of export, is that visas are issued for study permits or for a temporary resident. Any student coming for under six months may come as a temporary resident. Study permits are not necessarily a reflection of the real number of students in Canada.

In the case of our sector, of the 150,000 students, a good two thirds of those would be temporary residents because they come for studies of under six months. It seems to be less expensive and easier to obtain that visa than to obtain a study permit.

Senator Johnson: As you probably know, Brazil does offer a lot of opportunity for students to go abroad, particularly to study in Canada, which we learned on one of our trips there. Do you think Turkey will be doing the same thing in the future? Where would the best area be for them to focus on in terms of Canada with regard to education?

Mr. Peralta: I think Turkey will not have a choice but to go that route and I will tell you why. You all know 52 per cent of the population is under 30. I do not know if you have some of this other data or not, but only 17 per cent of the population speaks English. For a country that wants to join the European Union, they need more foreign languages, English being the most popular one, and 83 per cent of Turks believe English is the most useful language. Over 250 educational agencies and three quality agent associations exist there that are not sending students to Canada.

The number of outbound university students in Turkey has grown by 50 per cent in five years. That trend is already in place. Over 55,000 Turkish university students went to study abroad in 2011. From the 1.5 million students who applied to universities in Turkey, only 361,000 got in. They do not have the internal capacity to educate their youth. Therefore, they have two choices: build, which is a long-term affair; or import, which is the faster solution, but it does not address the long-term need. Countries like Brazil or Saudi Arabia are doing both at the same time, and I think that we have a lot of evidence of that here as well.

Senator Johnson: What is the promise in terms of Turkey in that respect, of building? They were going to have to do that, logically, in the future.

Mr. Peralta: Yes.

Senator Johnson: We could help them more, or there could be more offerings here, of course.

Mr. Peralta: Yes. Turkey is a place where we need to be now, building relationships and building the bridges between academic programs so that things are easier when the time comes.

Senator Johnson: Yes.

Mr. Peralta: This is one of the emerging markets for our sector.

Senator Johnson: Would working with Canadian business and Canada-Turkey business associations be helpful as well, the private sector?

Mr. Peralta: They are essential drivers. We speak about Turkey and we speak about Brazil. Look at the Canadian companies working in Brazil, and what are the challenges they face? It is the educated workforce, both at the technical and academic levels. Linguistics is included in that, because you cannot get there without the language. My impression is that Turkey will have to go down the same road.

The Chair: On our visitation, we met with education ministry officials who gave us their long-term plans of expanded universities, technical schools, et cetera, and some of their plans for expansion of students abroad for particular value-added degree programs. They covered that, as well as the language, but you have supplemented some of the issues that they have outlined.

Senator D. Smith: In addition to what our chair just said, we also heard from a representative from Centennial College, I think, who has a representative in Istanbul. I do not know if this is a full-time position, but as I recall, she said they had 76 students at Centennial College from Turkey. Obviously, I do not think they were funding them, but they do have a representative, who is on staff, and it may be a full-time position; that is not clear. Obviously, they are quite aggressive, whereas I thought maybe that would be the sort of thing that Ryerson might be doing.

I am trying to get to the bottom line of what you are really saying. Are you hoping that we will be able to recommend funding of some sort for institutions like your own or for students? Is that the bottom line? What is the bottom line of what you are hoping this committee will conclude as a result of your presentation?

Mr. Peralta: I have to say, senator, that I did not come here with an ask. I came to share the knowledge that I have managed to gather. If I am put on the spot and asked for an ask —

Senator D. Smith: I was trying to read between the lines and thought I will just ask.

Mr. Peralta: I think it is a fair question. The only real ask, senator, is to make a recommendation to consider Turkey as a viable export destination for Canadian education, and to recommend and support that in any way that you see fit and that is possible. That is really the bottom line, if there are things you can contribute to within the inner workings of government that can facilitate that. It is not a question of money, necessarily; it is a question of policy, regulations and leadership as well. This, I think, is a much bigger driver than money. Our association does not work with government funding.

Senator D. Smith: Okay. However, I remember that old lawyer line, and I am a lawyer. When they say it is not the money, you know it is the money.

The Chair: Perhaps that speaks to your position, Senator Smith. I do not want to leave that implication.

Senator D. Smith: I have a sense of humour. It is okay.

The Chair: Do you want to respond to that, Mr. Henderson?

Mr. Henderson: I will provide a quick description of the institutions in Turkey.

They do very good training. They are very good at their education system. Turkey has quality institutions and quality education. Mr. Peralta is correct; they are dealing with serious issues of numbers and young people who need to be educated, and it is a critical issue for them.

One of the tasks, I believe, that would probably be useful for some attention to be spent on would be for the government to invite Turkish interlocutors to sit down with you and look at the institutions you have. We have a unique education system. Our education system is run by the provinces.

Turkey has a unique education system as well. Many of their systems are unknown to many of us because they are so unique. They are based on some common elements, such as the French system of government, but they are very good at what they do and they have developed them to a point where they are not comparable. I think that would be helpful in terms of really developing a strategy for education between Canada and Turkey, looking at those institutions, seeing what challenges there are and finding out how they work.

It is a different culture. It is a different education culture. It is not just an ethnic and language culture; it is a different public management culture. Trust me; they are very good at what they do, and we are very good at what we do. If we have the opportunity to take some time and energy to determine how they can fit together, I think it would be worth everyone's while.

Senator Lang: I would like to pose a question to Mr. Peralta, if I could, the question of overall federal government policy. I would assume there would be provincial legislation or policy involved in this as well with respect to how we can facilitate the movement of students back and forth between a country such as Turkey.

You referred to study permits and the fact that we are the only country, apparently, that does not allow educational agencies to even exist in our country. I assume it is part of study permits, the visa process.

I will ask you to take this position: If you were the Minister of Immigration, what exactly would you change to accommodate the facilitation of these students going back and forth, recognizing that you have a responsibility to ensure that we have a framework and a template for our immigration policy?

Second, have you, with your associates, actually sat down and put together an executive paper, with recommendations to the various levels of governments, to see what could be done to accommodate these changes so that it would make your job easier and we could maybe access these 1.2 million students who presently cannot get into a facility?

Mr. Peralta: We have submitted our position to CIC on a number of policies and regulations. I would be pleased to send you copies of that.

What would I do if I were Minister of Immigration? That is a tough question. It is easy to respond from where I sit and not so easy to respond when I have to consider all the stakeholders. However, if I were thinking of international education and of Turkey in particular, I would say that an investment in having immigration maintain its integrity yet somehow be integrated into our complete system of export and education would be extremely beneficial and would pay enormous dividends for Canada. This is in very general terms.

I fully understand that the primary objective of a visa officer is to look out for the interests of Canada, to protect Canada against fraud and security and other concerns. At the same time, it seems like the brush stroke is too wide. We need a bit more finesse in there.

Senator Lang: The purpose of my question is to find out whether you or your organization — I think you have referred to your overall organization — have put together recommendations and have gone forward to the government in this area. Is that correct? I want to make this clear.

Mr. Peralta: Yes, we have. However, I must confess it was not as a complete recommendation. We have responded to specific issues. For example, there is a proposed new regulation for the International Student Program. The proposed regulations were published in the Canada Gazette. We participated in the consultations and submitted written documents for that.

However, I think the question you are asking has bigger implications and is broader in scope than that. We have not done that. What we have submitted can perhaps inform part of what we believe can and should be done. Perhaps your question will take me back to my members and we can prepare something broader.

Senator Lang: I would appreciate it if you could table the documents that you have already put forward in respect to this area. I think all members would appreciate it if some time and effort was put in by people of your expertise in putting forward a document that would at least give us a template or a framework of what could perhaps be done to tweak the existing system and accommodate what you are talking about because I think we all have the same objective here.

I would like to go back to one area. You mentioned that you have been to Turkey twice and that you are going again this year. At the same time, you mused during your remarks about whether or not it is worthwhile to pursue students in Turkey. What are you doing differently in this visitation to Turkey than you have done in the past to see whether or not you will get better results?

Mr. Peralta: There are two things that we will be doing in the fall when we take our next trade mission to Turkey. First, we will have perhaps more emphasis on visas and immigration through meeting with local representatives from our visa consulate over there in Ankara. Second, it will be the beginning of an exploratory part of the next phase for us. We will not just give up on Turkey. We may need to give up on bringing Turkish students here if we cannot get them in, but it does not mean we cannot participate in efforts in Turkey, what we call ``offshore.'' In other words, it is delivering our curriculum, our teachers, our testing over there. This particular trade mission will just begin to look at the elements that are present for us to do that.

Senator Wallace: Mr. Henderson, you touched on the question I had. To further my own understanding of a comparison of post-secondary education as it exists in Turkey today with what we have here in Canada, you have pointed out some of the differences and challenges which are now faced in Turkey. Is there anything more you can tell us about those differences? I am thinking about the nature and quality of post-secondary in Turkey versus Canada.

As we know, in Canada there is a close relationship between the universities and the communities in which we are located, the role they play in those communities and the relationship with the business communities, arts, culture. Universities are tools to assist with research and development, which is critically important. The relationship that universities have with government for funding and otherwise, both provincially and federally in Canada, is well defined. I am trying to get a sense. That is how it is in Canada. When you look at post-secondary education in Turkey, are there differences that stand out as being different from how we are established here?

You touched on this, but are there differences that provide definite opportunities for Canadian educational institutions to take advantage of and provide opportunities in Turkey? Certainly with language training, Mr. Peralta, you made that clear; I understand that. In comparing the two systems, are there significant differences that you want to point out to us?

Mr. Henderson: Certainly, senator. I regret that I cannot give you some definitive description of the post-secondary system or the institutions in Turkey. What I can say with some level of confidence is that students that go through the post-secondary system in Turkey are qualified. Many of the institutions that supply students, or prepare them for their next level of education at the graduate level, do so at standards which are globally recognized.

As to the specifics, I think there is a great deal of discovery that has to be undertaken because I am certainly not an expert in those institutions. I know enough about Turkey to know that they are a very unique in all of their institutions — anything that is public, education or otherwise. They are unique and those institutions deserve the added attention. If you have the ability to do so, I definitely stress and recommend that.

I will make one general comment, though, about the international student in general and one of the disadvantages or challenges we have as Canadians that Turkish students will butt up against as well.

We have a graduate education which is very much sought after in terms of the quality of that education — graduate engineering, sciences and medicine. I am sure you are all well aware of this; you have probably heard it many times. It is highly sought after and a quality product. The difficulty with the North American graduate education system is that it is on a very old model of open education. The words escape me to properly describe it, but the idea is you come and study, absorb and become an expert. No finite parameter is put on that experience.

The global client now is usually funded by a government or a sponsor and they are given specific limitations. You have X amount of dollars and X amount of time. They are going specifically to institutions that can produce a graduate education within 12 months.

I recall setting up programs for engineers coming from the gulf, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other locations, and trying to find locations for them in other sought-after education programs, such as some of Carleton's engineering programs, or elsewhere across Canada. To the person at the other end of the phone I said, ``I will give you the best student we possibly can, and they will do their best to get out of there in 12 months. They are really qualified and have exceptional abilities and grades.'' The person at the end of the phone would tell me, ``Well, if you are giving me that, then I have no reason to give him back to you. I will pay for that individual to come to Canada; I will put them in my program; I will educate them; I will give them research grants; and they will join my faculty. Your client will never see them again. It is not in my interest to educate someone who wants to drop one of their employees or sponsored students in and take a program with an unknown end and an unknown future.''

Now, we are changing. That was something that happened three to four years ago. We are changing but we are slow. In Ontario, we are trying change the curriculum so we can offer graduate degrees in 12 months. We are trying to put in some legal boilerplate that requires some of our foreign students to abide by the agreements they have signed with their sponsor overseas, and return home.

These are some issues that I am sure some Turkish students would certainly encounter.

Mr. Peralta: I would agree. The thing that has made us great in education can be a double-edged sword. The stability, regulation and care that we have — even the fact that we are fragmented — have all made our system unique; in some ways, I believe they have actually contributed to its quality.

However, today's student is not playing by those rules anymore. The name of the game for youth today is mobility. They want and expect to start at his school, continue with mine and end up at your firm for a short stint while they go on sampling life in many ways. I think that supports it exactly. This is today's student, and if we want to be part of that, we have to change a couple of things.

Senator Wallace: Where was that 35 years ago?

Senator Wells: I have a two-part question. One is on numbers. To facilitate more students to come here, it is good to have a base or community of students from that nationality here. Are there many students specifically from Turkey who stay here that you are aware of who could be a draw for other students from Turkey, or would that go to the immigration question; namely, if they have a visa to study, then I guess they would have to leave?

Mr. Peralta: I would not be able to provide a clear answer to that. However, these are all important questions for us to answer because it will speak to whatever strategy we want to use.

Senator Wells: It would also provide a foundation for growth in the area that you would like.

Mr. Peralta: Absolutely. Turkish and Brazilian students are valuable because they add diversity. It is not good for us as a country — definitely not good for us as a sector — to depend on one.

We have over 20,000 Saudi students in the country right now. The single largest education client in human history is King Abdullah. He is paying for each and every single one of those students, and they each spend $75,000 a year here. With Brazil, it is the individual students, their families and the institutions that decide. With Saudi Arabia, it is one entity.

I think it would not be wise for us to depend on one. We need more Turkish students so we can bring more Brazilian students. We need that balance.

Senator Wells: You mentioned the two ways for Turkey to satisfy their educational needs. One is to build in Turkey and supply that massive deficit they have, and the other is to send students abroad.

There is a third option that would also satisfy the task that Senator Smith referenced earlier; namely, make Turkey a viable destination for Canadian education, that is, for Turkey to contract a Canadian institution or an institute to set up shop there. I will reference one that I know quite a bit about, and that is the College of the North Atlantic, which is based in St. John's, Newfoundland, my home town. They have set up in Qatar. They had a 10-year agreement signed in 2001. I know that they have over 3,000 alumni now and 700 employees there. Their alumni represent over 30 nations. Like Turkey, it is a drawing place for countries around that. Has Turkey been given any consideration in that regard? It would seem like a ripe opportunity for that model.

Mr. Peralta: I agree 100 per cent. When we speak of offshore as opposed to inbound students, offshore comes in many forms. It could be that I go to you and sell you my curriculum — I license it to you and you can use it — or provide teachers or something like that. However, it could also mean that I set up shop with you in Turkey using the name Carleton University. Building that infrastructure in Turkey is part of that offshore.

What is very advantageous about what you mentioned is the strategic leveraging that is done. A student who goes to that institution and all those who drive by it every day see Canada, Canada, Canada. It has a little more impact than one teacher.

Senator Wells: That could also lead to students coming here because there is recognition, knowledge and a greater comfort level.

Mr. Peralta: Absolutely. That institution provides a guarantee, in a way, that our Canadian institutions, which are a little square, for lack of a better term, find more acceptable.

Senator Wells: I also noticed today that Air Canada has announced they will fly three times a week direct Toronto to Istanbul, which will help facilitate even greater exchange.

Mr. Henderson: To explore that comparison, CNAQ's presence in Qatar is a decision from the centre and that is through Qatar's College of Technology, which oversees that institution. CNAQ provides all vocational training for the state of Qatar; whereas in Turkey they are much more similar to us in terms of who will drive the institutions. It will certainly be government and, with great certainty, it will be the private sector, as well, or there will be hybrids. These will be the institutions that will probably drive the infrastructure that will fulfill Turkey's needs.

From my standpoint, one thing I have to do when I go to Turkey is explore what policies and regulations will affect my presence there, if I wish to establish more than a temporary presence. That is if I want to partner with a Turkish institution, so I will do my due diligence in that regard.

My business model will be to not necessarily depend on Turkey as the source of my clientele. I think that is a fair way to approach Turkey, because it would be presumptuous to open up shop and say, ``Well, do they really need me? There will be a need, but will they be attracted to my institution just because I am Canadian?''

There is a different mindset in Turkey. To a certain extent, it is driven by factors that are common to Canada, whereas in the gulf, this is an executive decision being made. There is an obvious and apparent reaching out into the anglophone world to pull in institutions. With Turkey, you would not necessarily see that, but I think there is a great deal of opportunity. I think it will be driven in so many different sectors as well, and we just have to be able to capture all of that interest.

Senator Wells: You are right, and decisions can be made a number of ways — executive decisions, which are decreed, and business decisions, which are based on a vacuum. Our research shows a 50,000 deficit in faculty members, and the numbers that Mr. Peralta gave show, I think, 1 million students, with only 350,000 or something satisfied. That vacuum is a driver as well.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: My question is for Mr. Peralta, following on his answer to Senator Lang. You said that in your next visit this fall, you will meet with officers responsible for visas. Do you think the problem lies in the fact that the department's guidelines are being interpreted too strictly? Or do you already know what the problem is and you want to get clarification about why there are so many delays?

Mr. Peralta: I would say it is both. There is a third reason, as well: new regulations will be introduced on January 1, 2014. It is an opportunity for us to prepare ourselves somewhat on how this can be done. What you say is true; there is an interpretation. When the regulations are not 100 per cent clear, an interpretation is made. For example, students can work; it is 50/50. They can spend 50 per cent of their time working and 50 per cent of their time studying. But some think that 50/50 means four hours and four hours; others think it means four months and four months, and it is up to each officer to decide. Interpretation is then left up to those who are on site. That causes problems for our sector because we cannot offer the same program to everyone. It makes life a little difficult.

Senator Robichaud: Are you telling me that the officers interpret things in different ways?

Mr. Peralta: Immigration officers interpret the regulations differently because the regulations are not always clear. New regulations will be put in place that, I believe, will help us in everything we are doing. We have been asking for this for a long time, and we are very pleased that the minister is responding to those needs. But we do not know how the local interpretation in Ankara will go. For example, it is clear that Turkey differs from other countries; our immigration officers do not work with education agents at all. That is clear. That is in Turkey. It is different in other countries. They attend meetings and so on. But not in Turkey. Because an interpretation is made and that interpretation is not necessarily wrong; it is simply that the regulations are a little vague in that context.

Senator Robichaud: You said that it is not necessarily the wrong interpretation, but that it is not the right one either.

Mr. Peralta: Not for us.

Senator Robichaud: Thank you.

[English]

The Chair: If I could just follow up, we heard that immigration issues and visas are always a problem, sometimes because the students apply too late and the coordination is not there. However, we heard on site, on our trip, that it is much better now than it was both within the embassy and within the education ministry. I am a bit surprised to hear you characterize it as a significant problem.

The other thing we heard is that it is not necessarily with the Turkish applications, but it is the other applications because it has been centralized in Turkey. If you are talking about students coming from other countries and the changes that have occurred, that was pointed out as still needing to be improved. Of course, you have security issues because Turkey prides itself on being a collector point or a jumping off point. Are you talking about Turkish students or about the immigration from the area?

Mr. Peralta: That is a very good question because I think it can shed light on the intricacies of all of this. I can certainly attest to the fact that processing times in Turkey have greatly improved, and we are very grateful for that. Study permits for the longer-term students might have a better chance of success, but as I mentioned earlier, many students come through temporary residence. Many of those applicants have either not been processed in time or have been refused for reasons that are not clear. I am not even saying they are not the right reasons; it is just that they are not clear. The effect is that students and the educational agents do not really bother applying to Canada any more. If we follow that line, because there are fewer applications and they are tightly knit, the success rate tends to be higher. I am speaking about Turkish students specifically, not those from neighbouring countries. I think our numbers sort of show the truth. It is not really reasonable for us to receive only 1,300 Turkish students a year for language. We should have 10,000 to 15,000. They stopped trying to come, in a way.

The Chair: We were told that Canada was not on the radar, and that is a function of having to intensify our visibility there and theirs here. That is why they were not coming here. They naturally thought of Europe because of the integration; that and the United States, of course, were where they were getting their English training. They were saying that we have to be more competitive and better known and get in there. It was not the fact that they were discounting us; they just did not factor us in. You are saying that they are factoring us in but are being discouraged.

Mr. Peralta: I would say that both are true. I know that many of our members have tried to work with Turkey, and it has been difficult for them. I will give you an example.

There is an international event in Toronto in two or three weeks. It is called a workshop where educators and educational agencies from all over the world meet. In those cases, typically what happens at our booth is that the agents from Turkey or other countries that are having problems with immigration all come to us to complain. I can only report on what our members are reacting to and what these agents are saying.

I can say concretely — and it is verifiable — that we do not support the distribution channel that controls most of the world's international students. We do not support educational agencies. We do not accept them. We do not train them. We have one course now, launched by DFAIT. It is a great initiative and Languages Canada and the consortium are licensed to promote it. It is called the Canada Course, and it is for educational agents. We will provide that information. It is a great tool all about international education for international students and agents. However, the fact that immigration is not part and parcel of that is a missing link for us.

The Chair: You are saying your problem is with temporary residents, not those that come in identified as students and need a visa. You are saying they could be temporary residents, and there are a whole host of entry requirements for temporary residents.

Mr. Peralta: Yes.

The Chair: My question is why are your students not then coming in under the visa requirements for students as opposed to temporary residents?

Mr. Peralta: It tends to be more expensive. It tends to be more difficult in some markets for language students. Typically, if it is under six months, the encouragement is that they go through the temporary resident one. Again, we compare to Brazil. Many Brazilians apply for the study permit versus the temporary resident one because it seems to be easier to get in through that. It is a very good point that you make. It has not really worked in Turkey. We do not exactly know why.

The Chair: Or it has not been tested enough or been discussed enough.

Mr. Peralta: Yes.

Senator Downe: You identified problems in attracting more students to Canada. Has your association or group compared some of your competitors? You mentioned Australia. What is the Australian advantage over Canada? Have you done any analysis of that?

Mr. Peralta: Yes, we have. Their advantage is that it just seems to be easier. They live in a different situation. It is essentially an island. They do not have the U.S. as a neighbour. There are facts that we do have to recognize. Immigration, in a way, is easier for them to control, and I think that is undeniable. However, the process is faster. Even the process for the U.S. can be faster or easier, depending on which market.

They reach out. The Australians will provide training to these educational agents on how to best fill out the visa forms and what the best candidates look like, that kind of thing. Our immigration system and policy is not really set up for that. I think that would be the main reason.

The Chair: Following up on that, we have a new initiative on international education marketing strategy, and I do not know how many million. Will that be a tool that could address this problem?

Mr. Peralta: Absolutely. I think that can help us galvanize and focus. If we can use it for a bit longer-term vision, then it can really help with that.

The other tool that can help, which came out in the recent budget, is the $45 million that the government is using for CIC to improve processing temporary resident permits. It is not that things are not being done. In the last budget, a couple of things have come in, including the $45 million for the temporary resident permits and also the $10 million, $5 million a year over two years, for promoting Canadian international education.

Senator Downe: As a follow-up to that, is the overall problem not one of coordination? Education is mainly a provincial responsibility. As Senator Smith indicated, we were in Istanbul and met an agent for Centennial College, not representing Canada, not representing all the colleges in Ontario, but representing one college. Good for them for doing that. The Australians come in and they have a full menu of all their institutions. They represent everyone.

In that vacuum, everyone is trying to do the best they can based upon their objectives and resources, but it is so uncoordinated that that is part of the problem as to why we are missing so many opportunities around the world. As you mentioned, there are 3 million students floating around out there, and we are getting such a small percentage. Success in Brazil is offset by failure in Turkey, but the Australians seem to be everywhere and getting students from all the countries around the world.

Mr. Peralta: I would agree. I mentioned earlier that we created a consortium of national associations, AUCC, ACCC, CAPS-I, Languages Canada and CBIE, and it is really an effort to begin coordinating this. We have the blessing and challenge that education is a provincial jurisdiction, but it is very important to understand that when the student selects, they select the country first, not the institution, not the province, not anything else; it is first the country. Then, for language, they may select a city or a region, and then the institution. For academics, I would probably suggest that they would go next to the institution because of the programs involved, but first the country. It is a matter of managing this balancing act. With the government's commitment recently and this joining of the associations into a consortium, if we can work together, then I think we will see big differences.

I would like to make one last point. We have a small amount of international students, but I think the message has to be loud and clear out there. We do not want the most; we just want the most of the best. We will never, ever be the United States or the U.K. We do not have the population base to accept so many students. However, that gives us an incredible strategic advantage because it allows us to pick and choose.

Senator Downe: On that, what screening do you do? I have heard from some institutions that they have had students come and when they arrive they were a little surprised that their academic levels were not as high as they thought they would be, and they had to put them in a remedial program to bring them up to scratch. Not all institutions are equal in all of these countries. Some are world-class and others have very low standards. Is there any pre-screening at all?

Mr. Peralta: At the academic level, there is obviously some pre-screening. What could happen is if I were to go to Turkey and say that I am an intermediate level student in terms of my Turkish, and they test me and I am really a beginner, I overestimated my own capacity by a little bit. In language, I know exactly what can happen. However, in terms of academics, we do find that sometimes students arrive and things are not exactly as we thought, so they do need some support.

[Translation]

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Mr. Peralta, I am curious. As director of Languages Canada, could you tell us a little bit about the personal relationships or relationships that members of your organization have developed with educational institutions in Turkey to increase the mobility of young people between Canada and Turkey?

Mr. Peralta: I know that there are relationships between some of our members and some Turkish organizations. I cannot give an exact description right now. I could do a little research. I believe my colleague, Mr. Henderson, spoke about the difference between the education systems.

So I do not believe there are very broad or deep relationships in place.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: You have not met with directors of Turkish institutions? You did not go and meet with a director of a school, university or other institution?

Mr. Peralta: No, not really. We will start to explore that ground, that possibility on our next trip. I must admit that my previous trips were mainly used to meet with education agents and promote Canada, Languages Canada and our members.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Thank you very much.

[English]

Senator D. Smith: I will give you a quote from a television commercial and ask for your reaction to it. ``I've tried other methods, but Rosetta Stone was the only one that ever worked for me.'' The original Rosetta Stone was from Egypt. Do they have it in Turkey and does it work, or is that just slick advertising?

Mr. Peralta: Yes.

Senator D. Smith: Yes to which? They have it in Turkey or it is just advertising?

Mr. Peralta: It is all over. Rosetta Stone is global. It is sold all over the world. It is very slick advertising. I can guarantee you, as someone who has personally attended a number of conferences on accelerated learning techniques, that there is no magic pill. It ends up being that you have to do the work.

The Chair: I think that is a good note to end on. It is not easy to attract the attention of the Turkish community to accept our institutions. We will have to work for them. I thank you, Mr. Peralta, for your information from your perspective.

Mr. Henderson, the message that I am taking from you is not only about the institutions and the quality, but that personal partnerships and personal understanding are extremely important in Turkey. That was reinforced throughout our fact-finding mission. First you build the relationships, and then you will get the results, whether it is in education or trade or investments. You have underscored a continuing message that we heard throughout Turkey.

I thank both of you for coming here. I think you understood the excellent response from the senators from their questioning. Thank you for being with us today.

Mr. Henderson: Thank you.

The Chair: Senators, we are adjourned. We will not have a meeting next Wednesday. I am just giving you an alert that you will have next Wednesday free from this committee. We will give you notice of the next meetings. We are eagerly waiting our draft report.

(The committee adjourned.)