UWindsor looking beyond India and China for international students

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The University of Windsor is already moving to act on recommendations in the most recent report from Ontario's Auditor General, including diversifying their international student recruitments.

The report from Bonnie Lysyk reviewed the financial operations at four of Ontario’s small to medium-sized universities including the University of Windsor.

Lysyk's audit found all four universities audited, Nipissing University, Algoma University, Ontario Tech and the University of Windsor, are currently operating in a financially-stable manner.

But the report noted that in 2020/21, 60 per cent of international students at the University of Windsor were from India while 12 per cent were from China. 

"Over-reliance on a few geographic regions increases the risk that external factors, such as a global economic downturn or foreign policy shift, could significantly impact a university’s financial health," the report read.

Gillian Heisz, Vice-president of Finance and Operations for the University of Windsor, says they've been working for the past two years to diversify their international student base but it's a strategy that takes time.

"It will be three to five years before we see the fruits of that labour. We have identified some additional countries beyond India and China, which have been typical markets for us, where we do want to focus. We have agents on the ground in those countries trying to build up brand knowledge about the University of Windsor and talk to students about applying," she says.

Heisz says right now they're focusing on South America, which they think is a large market for the University of Windsor in terms of international students.

"We're also looking at some countries in Eastern Europe and we've always done quite well in the Middle East. We have a very significant student population from Iran, so we will be looking to grow in that area as well," she says.

The report found over the last five years, the University of Windsor increased its full-time-equivalent international student enrolment by 60 per cent, while the proportion of revenue from international students more than doubled from 9.6 per cent to 20.9 per cent.

Heisz says we recognize that international students lack of diversification can be a risk.

"We've been pretty strategic to build contingencies in our budget to make sure we have that risk mitigated. So a helpful reminder from the AG but it's something we're already actively working on," she adds.

The report found that between 2017/18 and 2021/22, the University of Windsor recruited 10,998 international students, the most out of the four universities that were reviewed.