Photo by Kyle West
By Elliot Fung
In L.R. Wilson Hall on Oct. 26, McMaster staff and students listened to presenters such as Peter Mascher, vice-provost (International Affairs), and Sean Van Koughnett, associate vice-president (Students and Learning) and dean of students, speak about the status of the “McMaster Model for Global Engagement” implemented in 2017.
The model’s key focus is global engagement with ethical principles and the enhancement of McMaster’s presence on the international stage. One of the problems identified in the strategy document was the absence of a centralized location where people can get information about McMaster’s global engagement strategy. One of the university’s goals is to create a hub-like structure to bring together various aspects of global engagement.
As such, on Oct. 26, McMaster launched MacGlobal, an online hub for information about activities, support, services, opportunities, news and events relating to McMaster’s global engagement. Debates on the possibility of a physical location for a global hub are being held as the logistics are being worked out.
The number of first-year international undergraduate students is growing every year. Van Koughnett reports that the number of international undergrad students will almost double in the next few years. As a result, McMaster is looking at introducing more support for international students.
This year, McMaster is already looking at an array of new programs for international students. The Ignite pre-Welcome Week program, a new English as second language support service, and smaller initiatives such as an airport welcome, help to support incoming international students as they make their transition to McMaster.
Concerning international recruitment, increasing attention is being placed on increasing quality and diversity of applicants. To achieve diversity, student recruitment is targeting specific countries such as China, India, United Arab Emirates, the United States and Turkey.
Another aim is to increase the number of international career opportunities for students and reduce financial barriers. McMaster’s involvement in university networks such as U21 and 20 United Nations University and partnerships with universities abroad will help to support collaborative programs such as joint PhDs and dual master’s degrees.
In addition, collaboration between universities gives way to opportunities such as McMaster’s partnership with a university in Rome to provide students access to the resources of a world-class institution for classical studies. In return, students from Rome will have access to McMaster’s resources.
Scholarships such as the McCall MacBain International Fellowship are being introduced to reduce financial barriers with respect to student mobility. The fellowship provides 10 McMaster students with $23,500 towards academic and work experience abroad.
Despite these shiny initiatives, McMaster currently offers no scholarships that only international students can apply for. This may act as a deterrent for international students who are dependent on foreign government funding, such as the students from Saudi Arabia who were forced to leave McMaster amid a diplomatic dispute in September.
For now, it seems that the university’s model is still in the process of developing the framework and structures needed to enable McMaster’s global engagement. However, more lasting changes are on their way as the university introduces more student mobility funding, new support for international students and the launch of MacGlobal.