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Doctor of Philosophy



Collaborative Specialization

Migration and Ethnic Relations


Dr. Belinda Dodson


This dissertation offers an integrative look into the supply side of international student migration (ISM) in Canada. Within its scope, supply side of ISM is understood as a space of interactions of the two key involved domains: education industry and migration management.

Drawing from previous empirical and theoretical works, this thesis investigates a set of research questions, starting with: (1) how the institutional domain structures the international student enrolment, and (2) how the pursuit of education suppliers’ collective agenda can influence policies defining ISM. With the neoliberal transformations of the late 1970s in education funding, Canadian higher education institutions (HEIs) have become commercialized and mobilized, pursuing student recruitment as a means to compensate for reduced governmental support. With strengthening revenue-seeking motivations behind internationalization of Canadian HEIs, concentration of undergraduate students in ISM inflow has been growing. This trend of ‘bachelorization’ was not mirrored in the domestic student body. ‘Bachelorization’ affected international student retention outcomes, leading to a decreasing proportion of graduate degrees holders among new permanent residents-former student permit holders.

Further, HEIs, united under the shared funding concerns and market interests, have found and have used their collective voice through networking organizations to pursue their agenda in communications and collaborations with the federal government. As an outcome, in 2014, Canada, where education is a strictly provincially-regulated sphere, has arrived at the International Education Strategy, overcoming the fragmented governance of the education sector. With this document, a new, collaborative mode of neoliberal governance has emerged - federally institutionalized mode of neoliberalism or ‘supra-neoliberalism’.

Within the migration policy domain, the dissertation further examines the question (3) of how federal and provincial migration policies structure the landscape of possibilities for permanent student retention. Through a comparative analysis of Provincial Nominee Programs, I explore how the process of “regionalization of immigration” (Akbari and MacDonald 2014) has been taking over Canadian policy space, and what consequences it entailed for the ISM management.

The last integral part of the dissertation investigates (4) the question of the geographical stretch of the education domain’s engagement in student retention. Through analyzing immigration advising support availability across Canadian campuses, this component treats HEIs as channels of permanent talent immigration. The findings show that HEIs’ interest and advocacy in attraction far outweigh their current involvement in retention, which is geographically uneven and insufficient.

This dissertation advances understanding of ISM as a supply-stimulated, multi-domain and a multi-scalar affair, it makes several original empirical and theoretical contributions, and provides a research platform for developing a more cohesive international student retention policy.