Rector's Speech to BoT Mar02_12
Rector Francis' speech to the Board of Trustees on March 2nd, 2012.
Good evening fellow Trustees and visitors, It is so nice to see you all here once again gathered for tonight’s meeting. After the release of the Principal's Where Next document, we as an institution have placed great value on internationalizing Queen’s. To his credit, the Principal has been doing an incredible job with exposing Queen's externally and taking with him the principles, values, and spirit of our community across the globe. Through personal experience with a few exchange students and from hearing about the small number of experiences that other students have had, it is clear that they benefited tremendously from their international exposure and in the relationships they built. My instinctively positive disposition towards internalization not withstanding, I would briefly like to share some concerns raised to me by a number of international students. In the last week, I had an international student leave Queen's because his tuition was too high and that the educational quality did not warrant it, clearly this was an isolated case, but I worry it may be indicative of a potential area of oversight: are we looking half way around the world for our international efforts, but not paying sufficient attention to providing an exceptional experience for the international students here at home. Recently, however, I have been hearing from a number of international students that they do not feel as well-integrated within our community as they had hoped, they have also notified me of difficulties with housing for international students. By the way, my commentary is by no way a reflection on the international centre, which does a fantastic job with the international community here at Queen's. I am unsure if this is a widespread issue that is currently being looked at, but one of the benefits of the job of Rector is that many students feel comfortable coming to me with their issues. I think that most of us in this room agree that international enrollment is valuable to our learning environment. For these international students to be voicing their concerns to me, causes me to take a step back and think carefully about our internationalization efforts. It puts our community at a loss when certain members, in this case a small number of international students, feel that they are in isolation during their time here. These students help to improve the learning experience for other members of our community, especially students and faculty. And ultimately, any University institution is only as good as the students it admits and retains. What can we take from the concerns raised by this sample of international students? Are these isolated cases, in which a few students had certain expectations that we simply could not satisfy? How many other international students may be considering a transfer option? How can we reach out to international students who are here now to ensure that they are receiving the best experience possible? What systems are in place to encourage interactions between domestic students and international students? Are we effectively integrating them into the Queen’s community? How do we assess this? I know the board looked at the risk of Queen's pricing itself out of the market for international students at the March meeting last year. And We have not looked at