“Internationalization” subject to external review

A university “where the world learns together,” Trent welcomes students from over 80 countries and has study abroad programs in over 40 locations across the globe.  The international community is, in the words of the University itself, “remarkable in its diversity for a university our size.” However, like Traill College, Trent’s “internationalization” is scheduled to be subject to an external review.

President Leo Groarke stated, “Essentially, we are asking how we might extend our internationalization efforts and improve this aspect of what we do.”
The review is meant to look at all aspects of Trent’s international operations, which include the Trent International Program, international enrolment, international research, student services, programming, and curriculums.

The review is conducted with the hopes that it will foster initiatives to improve practices in internationalization.

The same person who oversees internationalization at the University of Regina will be conducting this external review, and will be aided by Trent University’s Environmental and Resource Studies chair and professor Chris Metcalfe. Brenda Blackburn, executive advisor in the Office of the President, notes that the review will involve students, alumni, staff, and faculty; however, the details pertaining to the inclusivity and impact of these voices were not specified.

An “internationalization review” has the potential to bring about the positive change international students across campus have been voicing through Arthur, the Trent International Students’ Association, the Community and Race Relations, and the international student commissioner position.
International students have long been using these platforms to voice their concerns about Trent’s “internationalization” process and on issues that remain unresolved.

The notion of international students being used as “cash cows” has appeared on these platforms numerous times.

International student tuition fees continue to rise and Trent’s recruitment efforts gravitate toward wealthy students from a limited number of countries that can afford to pay $20,000 per year in tuition fees alone.

In addition, the number of jobs that are open to applications from international students is significantly low, meaning that exorbitant tuition fees, limited recruitment, and a lack of jobs do not contribute to a true “internationalization,” but a biased one.

The review is meant to extend Trent’s internationalization efforts, but what exactly does that mean? Based on these trends, internationalization may mean simply increasing recruitment efforts to this limited pool of international cash cows.

International students have also voiced concerns along issues of inclusivity and cultural awareness. Often students have mentioned that university events and programming fail to meet the needs of international students.

In addition, the lack of culturally appropriate food on residence has been a topic of contestation.

Furthermore, issues along ethnic and racial lines have also emerged. Although often under the radar, racism on campus continues to be an issue at Trent, which affects international students’ inclusivity.

The internationalization review has the potential to bring about positive changes to Trent University.

However, the direction of the review highly depends on the definition of “internationalization” that the University adopts.

If Trent continues to view international students as cash cows, to neglect culturally appropriate practices, and to be lacking in culturally relevant programming, then the results and recommendations of the review will favour a particular kind of internationalization – one that does not coincide with the concerns of the multicultural community at Trent.

Student voices have been speaking loud and clear for quite some time: cap international student tuition fees, diversify recruitment efforts, address issues of race and marginalization based on difference on campus, introduce culturally appropriate content to curriculums and programming, and strive for a diverse, involved, and inclusive Trent community.

This is the kind of internationalization that students at Trent would like to see, but unfortunately, not the kind of internationalization that Trent seems to be pursuing.

With two key components of Trent University under review (Traill College and Internationalization), let’s take this opportunity for student voices to affect change in what it means to be a Trent University student.