Canadian students‘ interest in topics such as green energy, architecture, sustainability and architectural design, social science with a scientific perspective, ecotourism and medical tourism; represents an opportunity for Costa Rican universities to attract these students to short study programs in Costa Rica. This statement is derived from the study “Opportunities to export educational services to Canada”, carried out by the Costa Rican Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER).
The analysis revealed that, although Canadian students do not frequent study trips because they enjoy an excellent educational system, when they decide to do so, they consider factors such as:
Language: they can be in a country where the language is different from the native one as long as the classes are given in English or French.
Costs: most of the time they require scholarships, financing and other economic support, therefore, the costs in the destination country is one of the most important factors.
Travel time: May to August can be a good travel time for students, as they are in the Canadian summer and it is when they take short trips, go out to work or be with the family.
Credit transfer: especially for programs of 6 months or more. If the program is short in duration, it can be considered as part of the course requirements.
Top educational education
Maureen Alpízar, analyst in charge of the study, mentioned that the destinations chosen by Canadians are the traditional ones: the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. However, he explained that Costa Rica is in the top 15 of the countries of greatest interest, especially in the aforementioned areas that are directly related to sustainability.
Other areas highlighted in the study are the possible opportunity in the Faculty led or short courses, through a guided tour by the professor or academic staff. The recommended periods are two to four weeks, these short periods are favorable for Canadians as they would enjoy the experience, without the need to lose their job, or delay their graduation due to an academic trip that could be part of the curriculum of the university, if this type of negotiation with the institutions is achieved. In addition, it is important to note that the current context of a Pandemic forces the offering institutions to have a virtual strategy.
For her part, Marta Esquivel, Director of Business Intelligence at PROCOMER, added that the institutions that offer educational services in Costa Rica could take advantage of the International Education Strategy (2019-2024) launched by the Canadian government to stimulate the exit of students ( more than 11,000) to non-traditional destinations including Asia and Latin America. So it is vital that national universities take this into account the following.
Expand the offer of programs in English
Making an approach to Canadian colleges and universities to sign agreements and conventions that include short-term visits within their curricular mesh will permit having a communication strategy that allows to point out the strengths of studying in Costa Rica in the aforementioned areas, and to take advantage of the good image that our country has in this respect.