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Meeting Notes 2nd National Meeting of Public School International Education Managers at the: Centre for Education Edmonton Public School Board Edmonton, Alberta Friday, May 12, 2006, 9:00-3:00 Ann Calverley of Edmonton chaired the meeting. 24 people attended, representing 15 school districts from 5 provinces. Ann welcomed the participants and everyone introduced themselves. The first item was an update from each province. Provincial updates 1. Alberta (Ann Calverley) Post-secondary international education receives more attention in Alberta. Basic education still seems to be mostly under the radar of government. In the past Calgary and Edmonton have been the major players, with a total of approx. 1000 students between them, but smaller school districts are now coming on board with perhaps 10 other school districts now accepting small numbers of students. The Alberta government has rep. offices in Hong Kong and Beijing, and hosted a spring mission for educational institutions. 2. B.C. (Harry Brown) IPSEA has a membership of 32 B.C. school districts. IPSEA has a seat at ACISI (Advisory Committee on International Student Immigration) and attends meetings twice a year in Ottawa where they can represent the concerns of K-12 schools. National list-serve up and running. IPSEA received clarification from B.C. government regarding requirements for medical insurance for international students (see details later in these notes). IPSEA is currently working on a business plan for its member institutions. Members have access to a discussion forum and a members‟ list serve. The BC Progress Board wrote a report to the premier on international education in B.C. but to date the government has not implemented any of the recommendations. 3. Saskatchewan (Jim Murdock) There is no organized strategy for international education and there are no language schools in the province. Medicare is free for everyone, including international students. Most students are hosted by Saskatoon Public and Saskatoon Catholic schools, but Regina and several smaller centres are starting to take interest. 4. Manitoba (Brent Poole) Manitoba started in the mid 1990‟s with 5 institutions. In 2000 MCIE was formalized as a group with an executive and constitution. MCIE has 91 members representing 31 organizations including public, private, K-12 and post-secondary as well as language schools. MCIE meets every second month as a general council and the executive meets in between. There is a secondary sub-group that meets 3-4 times a year. Smaller school divisions are starting to host students. Government is hands-on. There is an international education branch and a government rep. belongs to MCIE. Government helps to fund and organize new initiatives (eg. in 2004 organized a mission to Germany then a return visit for German agents in 2005. The same model will be used for Italy in 2006 and Japan in 2007). Homestay coordinators have an association which meets 2-3 times a year separately. MCIE (with government support) is currently working on 3 documents: 1. An orientation handbook which will be produced in hard copy and online for all institutions to use 2. A common provincial custodian form (a lawyer has been hired to develop the wording and an additional goal of this project is to have law firms and insurers in the province more knowledgeable about int. ed. issues) 3. A homestay waiver form (which will define the responsibilities of homestay families eg. for adequate home insurance) 5. Ontario (Geoff Best) Without marketing, students just ended up in Ontario, so the concept of support for international education is new. Any government support and interest seems to include only colleges and universities. Government is unaware even of how many international students there are in the province. There is a group formed from continuing education departments that focused on establishing standards for international education but their goal was to do all the recruiting for school boards and program managers were not consulted. There is more of a competitive rather than cooperative feeling among school boards, but because of declining enrollment there is increasing interest. The big school districts don‟t do any marketing. They are full, due largely to connections with large local immigrant populations. There has been some talk of setting up a provincial group but the feeling is that there may be more interest in going directly to a national group instead. Following the provincial updates there was a 15 minute break. Post-secondary Linkages The following points were shared: Edmonton was originally linked with Grant McEwan College but then discovered that their graduating students were more interested in university. The U. of A has a large number of international students and is very interested in connections with Edmonton Public School Board as a source. They offer $5000 scholarships to the top 5 EPSB international grads as well as information sessions for all students and conditional acceptances. U of A and Edmonton Public carry each other‟s recruiting materials with them when they travel. U.B.C. has a pamphlet identifying 5 Vancouver-area school districts that international students can go to before applying to U.B.C. Ottawa city, along with Tourism Ottawa and several institutions do joint marketing for Ottawa as a study destination. Vancouver School Board and Langara College have a long partnership where Langara does all the homestay placements for Vancouver. They refer groups and students back and forth to each other when appropriate. Vancouver School Board has also shared and had adjacent booths with Vancouver Community College. Surrey School District and Kwantlen College share homestay programs. There was a concern expressed about advertising that gives the impression that attendance at a particular school or district automatically leads to acceptance at a particular university. The feeling was that it would be better and more accurate for institutions to advertise the benefits of a public education system where graduates of any school who meet the entrance requirements are able to enter postsecondary institutions. The final point in this discussion was that if we want to “brand” public education in Canada then linkages with public post-secondary institutions should be considered. The future of this group This topic was discussed before lunch and again at the end of the afternoon. There was a consensus that there would be value in forming some kind of loose association of public school districts across Canada with possibilities for meetings and discussion of common interests. After a lengthy discussion the following things were agreed on: We will aim to meet twice a year for now, with the Fall meeting coinciding with the timing and location of the CEC conference and agent fair. The next meeting will be in Toronto on Sunday Nov. 19th. Polly Chao agreed to arrange a venue and Marg Davis will assist with agenda-creation and other details. We would like to have a second meeting in the Spring and to move this meeting from province to province with the hosting district responsible for making the arrangements, creating the agenda and chairing the meeting. At some point we will formalize our association by electing an executive and writing a constitution, and there will be further discussion about this at the November meeting. The following will form the focus for the association initially: program operations, advocacy for our sector, best practices, professional development, and the development of a Canada “face” or brand for Canadian public school education in the international market. All attendees were prepared to pay a nominal membership fee of $100 annually to cover costs associated with hosting and running meetings and other expenses. This fee will be due at the November meeting and before then arrangements will be made for an association bank account and the issuing of invoices. Geoff Best volunteered to take this on. The name of the association for now will be the Canadian Association of Public Schools International, or CAPSI. All of the above decisions will be re-evaluated and can be changed when we reach the point of formalizing this association. It was agreed that it would be best to move slowly in this direction. Attendees were happy to simply meet periodically to share information for now. At this point we broke for lunch. The plan after lunch was to divide into focus groups with each group looking at one of the topics that had been suggested by participants ahead of the meeting. However the decision was made to stay as a whole group and discuss the topics with a time limit and round-table discussion on each one. The following topics were discussed: Health Insurance for International Students In B.C. it is mandatory for all international students who are resident in the province for more than 6 months and hold valid study permits, to be covered by the B.C. Medical Services Plan or MSP. B.C. school districts comply with this directive and many districts enroll and manage their students‟ insurance themselves through establishing group plans and charging students an additional fee for medical insurance. There is a 3 month waiting period which is covered by private insurers and again most districts take care of this for their students. In Alberta there have been recent changes which make it no longer possible for minor international students to be covered by the medical insurance for Alberta residents. Calgary has gone to a system of compulsory private insurance and Edmonton is looking at the same thing. The cost is passed along to the student. In Saskatchewan international students with study permits are covered from their arrival by Saskatchewan health insurance, which is free. In Manitoba international students receive mandatory health insurance the same as local residents and they pay additional fees for it. In Ontario health insurance is included in the total fee package for international students. Coverage is provided by private insurers and begins on arrival in the province. Ontario also has immunization requirements for all students, including international students. Incoming international students are required to obtain an immunization certificate from Public Health before they are admitted to schools. There was quite a lot of discussion about the issue of timing related to coverage. Most programs seem to provide coverage for a full 12 months regardless of whether a student only stays for 10. Some programs provided coverage for up to a month after the school program ends to allow the student to be insured if he/she stays in the country for a while. The other item was the issue of (usually German) agents who insist on providing their own („better”) coverage for their students. The provinces with mandatory public health insurance all said that they still insist on the purchase of provincial insurance, and students are welcome to have their own additional insurance if they wish. Custodial Arrangements for International Students The discussion started with a message from the CEC network regarding a new custodian form on the CIC website which requires the address where the student will reside. There was also discussion of the special custodian form for Korean students. Manitoba, particularly, is attempting to come up with a single custodian form which will be acceptable in every country and can be used by all Manitoba institutions. A significant number of attendees signed custodian forms on behalf of their school districts, taking on responsibility for the students in their programs. Others seemed to have conflicting legal advice and some school districts had been advised not to take on that responsibility. In those cases homestay parents or others signed the custodian forms. Most people used some variation of the custodian form provided on the CIC website and in cases where documents were issued before students were assigned to homestays, an explanation had been provided to CIC and there seemed to be no problems. Homestay issues, including liability concerns Among the attendees, homestay families were provided to international students in a variety of ways. Many programs had their own in-house homestay programs. Others contracted out to homestay companies or other institutions. Manitoba is developing a homestay waiver form to deter lawsuits from homestay families. It was agreed that programs should have some way of clearly explaining responsibilities to homestay families ahead of time (eg. to check their home insurance for provisions related to having a paid boarder in the home). It was agreed that the homestay part of the programs is the most risky for potential lawsuits and that everyone needs to exert “due diligence” in the creation and monitoring of homestay arrangements for students. It was suggested that a national list-serve be created specifically for homestay coordinators so that they could discuss items of mutual concern and interest. There is room on the IPSEA server to host this list-serve if there is an interest. Canadian passport holders whose parents are not resident in Canada This item had been brought up previously on the national list-serve to see how these students are dealt with. The majority of respondents to the question and everyone at the meeting said that they charge fees to Canadian citizens if their parents are not resident in the province. Some charge full international fees. Some charge a reduced fee. There may be a growing problem in some areas of people who present documents indicating that they are the legal guardians of students so that they can attend school for free. Some provinces had stronger legislation about this than others. In all cases the issue of fees for international students depends on provincial policy so practices vary from one province to the next. Working with Agents Everyone at the table indicated that they work with agents to recruit students. A significant number of people had more than 80 agent-contacts and others had between 40 and 80. All (except Vancouver) paid commissions to almost all agents for new students. It was common practice to pay only for the first year (a referral fee) although a couple of people indicated that they paid in the second year in some limited cases where agents provided ongoing significant support. Commissions were in the 10-15% range in all cases. Most programs have official signed agent agreements with all of their agents. Some are renewed annually and some stand until they are cancelled. Some did not formalize agent agreements until they had received a specific number of students. In Toronto criminal record checks are required for all local agents. Some programs have developed agent profile sheets and ask to know who else the agent works with. Several people check with other programs before working with particular agents. B.C. shares information about “bad” agents on their members‟ discussion forum. At the end of the day the arrangements for the next meeting were finalized, Ann was thanked for chairing the meeting and the Edmonton team for making all the arrangements for the day. The feeling was that it had been a productive and interesting meeting.
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