The Dislocated ‘Outsiders’ within International Canadian Higher Education


  • Shamiga Arumuhathas Western University


Corporatization of international higher education (HE) significantly contributes to a country’s GDP per capita income (Connell, 2017; Guo & Guo, 2017). Canada continues to be a leading participant within HE markets as federal policies entice Canadian post-secondary education (PSE) institutions to increase their enrollment of international students (IS) (Kunin, 2012). In 2014, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (FATD) established an international strategy, recommending hosting IS who are valuable ‘commodities’ (Stein & Anderotti, 2015) in strengthening Canada’s economy while cultivating skilled and ‘ideal immigrants’ (Scott et al., 2015). Attracting a significant number of IS in metropolitan cities remains a primary objective for PSE institutions; however, little is known about the PSE experience. More specifically, international attitudes of belongingness are largely unaccounted for by Canadian HE institutions. Recruitment and retention departments in HE neglect the challenges IS students, particularly those who identify as racialized minorities, encounter within their host institutions. Reportedly, IS from the global ‘South’ express being alienated and having low self-esteem for being ascribed as the “outsider” (Chen, 2006). This essay aims to address how the sense of belonging, or lack thereof, shape international students’ PSE experiences? Given the nature of this exploratory and conceptual essay, it does not intend to generalize the IS’ experiences but seeks to highlight a precise sub-group’s sense of belongingness. Based on the limited literature, I argue that linguistic differences, discrimination, and inadequate resources to social securities are primary factors that contribute to international students’ lack of belongingness. Consequently, racialized IS face estrangement and alienation within the university community which ultimately impedes their academic persistence.






Position Paper/Essai