In conversation with Mike Henniger, CEO and President at Illume Student Advisory Services
Mike Henniger visited Bangladesh recently to attend "Canada Application Day", organised by Osprey Education Canada Inc. and Eduproof Inc. The Daily Star sat down with him for a brief conversation.
The Daily Star: Why is it important for institutions to recruit international students?
Mike Henniger: It is extremely important to internationalise universities and colleges, and to have an international mindset for all students, faculty and staff. There is no real area of study that does not have international and cultural implications. Take the Business and Economics Faculty, if they do not have international students and faculty members, it limits the general perspective because we know that the world is a global village, economies are global, and businesses are international.
DS: How do you think Bangladeshi students can benefit from an education abroad?
MH: When I look at the countries and universities that I represent, I know they are providing world-class education in sectors like Environmental Sustainability to Economics or Social Justice. I think Canada is a leader in many of those fields, and Bangladesh needs to continue to advance in those sectors. Many of the students studying at the institutions we represent will be able to come back to Bangladesh and be future leaders.
DS: What are some of the challenges prospective international students from Bangladesh face when applying abroad? What are some of the things they should be aware of?
MH: I think one of the biggest challenges is that related to budget. Unfortunately, international study is expensive. Many students look for scholarship opportunities that often are unavailable.
For many, the realisation that they want to study abroad comes later in life. Most of these people are excellent students that the universities would be more than happy to accept, but because of study gaps or because they have dependents, it can often be difficult to obtain a Canadian visa.
When that happens, it is important that the student remains true to their dreams. I believe it is important to carve out an academic life and career path, instead of finding ways to just get to Canada or any other country. It will also allow institutions and immigration officials to understand the student's story and help them actualise their dreams.
Knowing the basics, and not outsourcing your education choice will go a long way. Researching about the faculty, entry requirements or job outcomes will make sure that the student is making the right choice.
DS: Can you talk about some of the shortcomings in the current application process? How can students get around those shortcomings to make sure their profiles are being accurately judged?
MH: Universities and colleges pride themselves with inclusivity, but often we do not do a great job and end up putting up more barriers. There is a constant effort to try to make education easier to access, but certain problems still persist, such as those related to proof of English proficiency and shorter degrees.
It is my personal belief that in academia, all the importance is put in a student's grades, even though we know that a student's skills in terms of conflict resolution, and their ability to gain different experiences in life are more influential. We often do not measure these things. However, many programs are now looking at a more holistic approach, so I believe we are headed in a direction.