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
Senator A. Raynell Andreychuk (Chair) in the chair.
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
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
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.
My French is not very good, so I will speak in 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
These are some issues that I am sure some Turkish students would
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.