Lakehead U program launches for overseas students

The Orillia campus of Lakehead University is busy welcoming their newest crop of students. Their sister campus in Thunder Bay already welcomes students in the hundreds, who travel to Canada to learn English and gain a western university education.

James Aldridge, Vice-Provost International, explains that it has always been their intention to have international students on that campus. It was a struggle at first, “but it’s finally got legs, and we’re really excited about an expansion of the international offering in Orillia, and the number of students that are taking us up on the Orillia opportunity.”

Aldridge is responsible for all the international activities of the university. Their Orillia campus is the only university in Simcoe County, open for more than a decade.

37 new students completed the international student orientation on the Orillia campus Aug. 31.

They grew the international student program in Thunder Bay from a couple of hundred students to a thousand students, and are now starting to see results in Orillia. “We’ve worked really hard to push some groups to there, and now we’re starting to see the fruits of all those efforts paying off,” says Aldridge.

32 of those students are from Mexico, and enrolled in their full-time ESL program, a first for the university, who took five international students taking on regular programs like media studies and business. “Those five students are all from different countries so we’re excited about the diversity on campus as well,” says Aldridge.

A team of overseas staff based in China, Malaysia, Mexico and India, are assisting from their ends.

The Mexico staff offers alumni support, partnership development, joint programming, and ground logistics when they have delegations of professors or university staff from Canada going overseas to those markets.

“Their primary role is to actually reach out and recruit students, and they do that by having direct relationships with study abroad agencies in those markets, as well as high school relationships,” says Aldridge.

Memorandums of Understanding are already in place with dozens of overseas universities that would be happy to have Canadian students participate in exchange programs. “We’re hoping that in the next year or two we can really drive that participation rate higher, because it’s increasingly going to be important for our own local students to have an international experience, and have that on their resume as part of increasing their chances of future employability when they graduate.”

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Photo: Students in Lakehead University’s English Innovation Program take part in classroom learning at Lakehead’s Orillia campus.

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