• Go with the flow

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    NOT with the current of political affairs, turning coat within or every six years, but flowing like the raging waters of Niagara Falls where I would have started Sunday, May 15, Canada time.

    Canada has overtaken all of the five countries with the highest increase in international student admitted. While Australia, New Zealand and the US all compete for foreign students, Canada has preempted the pioneers of Student to Residency pathway in terms of offering the most viable route toward permanent migration.

    From May 15 to 18, three respected educational students in Eastern Canada have invited Student and Career Advisers from over the world.

    In their words: “Niagara has become a premier educational destination in Canada, housing an impressive array of notable colleges, universities and secondary schools. Participants of the 2016 Study in Niagara FAM Tour will visit some of Canada’s most distinguished learning institutions including Niagara College, Brock University and the prominent boarding school, Ridley College. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn about the District School Board of Niagara’s (DSBN) publicly funded elementary and secondary schools.”

    It is not surprising to see Filipinos in Canada also a close second to the United States in the most number of permanent residents outside the Philippines: the US is called home by approximately 4 million while Canada has breached the million-mark.

    In a previous column, I emphasized that studying overseas is not for everyone. The cost of tuition or course fee plus the cost of studies (accommodation, domestic transportation, food, communication, phone and internet) can add another hefty amount.

    The range of tuition fees among the five countries with permanent migration programs go from $9,000 to $35,000 for a one- to two-year post-secondary diploma course aimed at adding a specialization based on the prospective student’s academic qualification and/or work experience.

    This further studies overseas option is not a progression from a bachelor’s degree, i.e., masters or PhD. Instead, there are specialized courses that one can take to enhance an existing bachelor’s degree with the end-view of being competitive at home in the desired industry or be globally competitive anywhere, primarily in the country where the diploma is obtained.

    A licensed Filipino nurse, for example, could take up a one-year course in Infection Prevention and Control, Social Support Worker or Early Childhood Education because having an RN degree from the Philippines, coupled with a Canadian, New Zealand or Australian qualification, boosts the student’s competitiveness at home and in the country where he or she completed further studies.

    In addition, international students are allowed and authorized to work part-time while studying and work full-time during off-school terms. This privilege and right to work enables foreign students to get a foot into the labor market stream of Canada, New Zealand or Australia—and, now, even the aggressive marketing campaign of several US educational institutions in the Midwest.

    Access to potential employers also increases the likelihood of getting potential sponsors that will support an international graduate’s application for permanent residency.

    In contrast with other Southeast or Asian countries—where the pursuit of higher education is principally to have higher and world-class qualifications and credentials to further one’s career at home or ensure one’s marketability in the global job marketplace—most Filipino students pursue studies abroad to gain access to potential employers and get those crucial points that enable them to cross the minimum threshold to be invited for permanent residency.

    In addition to this access to potential employers and the allure of permanent residency (freedom from seeking whom you know in an uneven playing field of Philippine career development), Filipinos validate the most common reasons why studying overseas is now seen as the most viable escape clause from perennial underemployment and unemployment in the Philippines despite holding college degrees.

    A Filipino student wants to study:

    1. In a particular part of the world he/she had always wanted to see.

    2. In a city, town, or rural area where a profession could be practiced while getting decent pay.

    3. Where he/she would feel comfortable living in.

    4. Where the cultural, social, and extracurricular experiences and activities are enjoyable and productive.

    5. Academic programs that aligned with his/her personal, academic, and professional goals

    6. In a country that allows easy travel to and domicile probabilities in other countries.

    Based on this wish list, the Criteria for Ranking emerge.

    The following criteria had been selected based on rankings made by US News & World Report, a respected magazine worldwide and interviews with Filipino students applying for visas to pursue academic programs overseas.

    Citizenship: cares about human rights, cares about the environment, gender equality, progressive, religious freedom, respects property rights, trustworthy, well-distributed political power

    Cultural Influence: culturally significant in terms of entertainment, fashionable, happy, has an influential culture, modern, prestigious, trendy

    Ability to Work While Studying: availability of career counselors, guidance on entering the local job market; access to employers who could be potential sponsors for full employment and/or permanent residency; eligibility of spouse to work full-time.

    Entrepreneurship: connected to the rest of the world, educated population, entrepreneurial, innovative, provides easy access to capital, skilled labor force, technological expertise, transparent business practices, well-developed infrastructure, well-developed legal framework.

    Best value for tuition and cost of studies: competitive course fees and flexible payment terms, employers allowed to post job openings in school; flexible and reasonable rates of transportation, food and lodging.

    Open for Business: bureaucratic, cheap manufacturing costs, corrupt, favorable tax environment, transparent government practices.

    Pathway to permanent employment and residency: official programs in place allowing change of status onshore; points for completing studies, skills, qualification and language proficiency of spouse/partner; bonus points for having qualified relatives in country of study.

    As with the euphoria of victory from voters who had chosen the winning presidential candidate, the ritual of getting up on stage and having on hand the red-ribboned diploma duplicate is a dream come true for college graduates.

    Then reality sinks in. By that time, options would have flowed and opportunities expired.

    After all, the five countries with permanent resident migration options also study their options on what kind of students they would like to welcome and hold on to.

    All that this week would be true at Niagara Falls.

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