• Denise Paglinawan

Ryerson plans to double international student enrolments by 2023

The university plans to have 15% international students out of its total undergraduate enrolments by 2024 but competition could be fierce

Stock photo from Unsplash

Ryerson University is planning to reach more than 4,500 registered full-time international students by 2023, a more than double increase from 2018’s total enrolment of 1,920 international students.


According to the university, the intake increase of international students to 1,790 annually is part of its “internationalization strategy.”


Ryerson also plans to have 5,100 total full-time international students by 2024, which is 15% out of its total undergraduate enrolments.


To reach these goals, the office of the vice-provost, students established a new department to focus solely on international student enrolments.


In a statement on the university’s website, Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi said internationalization is one of the university’s “key priorities.”


"We are seeing a plateau in the number of student applications each year,” Lachemi told the Ryersonian. “If we want to continue to grow as a university, we need to accept more international students.”


“[Our] priority is to deal with domestic students but when there’s room for us to increase our portion of international students, this is exactly what we are doing now,” said Lachemi.

Aside from increasing enrolments, Ryerson also plans to increase participation in the Real Institute ESL Foundation Program to 600 students annually.



Ryerson has among lowest international student enrolments


According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, Toronto hosted a total of 168,730 international students in 2017, the largest number in Canada.


Meanwhile, a 2017 report by Ryerson International said Ryerson has one of the lowest international-student-to-local-student ratio in terms of enrolments.


“Ryerson is among the most diverse universities in the world, yet when compared with peer institutions, its international students make up a relatively small proportion of its student body,” the university website says.


The report also noted that the majority of Ontario universities have 10 to 20% international student enrolment proportions, with some reaching up to 30%.


In 2017, the University of Toronto had 16,069 undergraduate international students – about 11 times more than Ryerson’s enrolment of 1,473 international students.


“Thanks to the dedicated work of many, we have already come a good way in achieving this aim in areas through our recruitment and support of international students,” Anver Saloojee, Ryerson’s assistant vice-president, international, said in the 2017 report.



Canada competes for international student recruitment


Despite universities’ enthusiasm in attracting international students, a Toronto-based education consulting service predicts that Canada’s competitive position in international higher education may significantly be threatened in 18 months.


Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA) said this may occur as universities in the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Australia focus their efforts on marketing to these students as well.


Full-time international students at Ryerson pay up to four times more than domestic students, a board of governors budget report released in April reveals.


According to Statistics Canada, international undergraduate students in the country pay an average of $29,714 in annual tuition fees.


In Ontario, the average annual tuition fee of undergraduate international students is $38,276.


“Everyone needs to be realistic about their competitive position,” wrote Alex Usher, president of HESA, in a blog. “The easy money days are more than likely about to end.”

© Denise Paglinawan 2020

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