When Meric Gertler began his term as the sixteenth president of the University of Toronto in November 2013, he referenced the need to strengthen and deepen international partnerships as one of the main priorities of the university. The need to enhance research links between Canadian and foreign education institutions was also sighted as a target of the new International Education Strategy launched by the Harper government in early 2014.
Despite concerted efforts to encourage more students to spend time overseas, it is relatively uncommon for U of T students to study abroad.
Five hundred and eighty-nine U of T students will participate in the Centre for International Experience (CIE)’s Student Exchange Program during the 2014–2015 academic year. This figure, which draws from students at both the St. George and Mississauga campuses, represents a 20 per cent increase from the 2012–2013 academic year. However, it remains a very small percentage of the 42,686 students at St. George and the 12,741 students at UTM.
Many students interviewed cited the perceived cost of studying abroad, including travel costs and the possibility of higher living expenses, as reasons for not studying abroad. Other students cited commitments to student groups on campus.
Still, many students are simply unaware of overseas study opportunities.
In the past, the CIE has undertaken efforts to enhance its outreach and inform students about the university’s exchange programs, as well as the scholarships and bursaries offered by various U of T offices for study abroad.