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RRU ramping up international recruitment

September 26, 2011
Goldstream News Gazette
Edward Hill

They filed into the opulent Hatley Castle on Friday - 50 students representing 15 countries, a group that underscores Royal Roads University's aggressive new push to broaden the international flavour of the campus.

Over the next five years, RRU says it intends to significantly boost the number of international students studying at the Colwood-based heritage property. Where the university sees about 100 foreign students per year now, that could rise to 500 to 700 in the years to come, say RRU officials.

"We are changing focus to have more (students) on campus, including the number of international students," said Thevi Pather, RRU director of international programs. "We want all our learners to be global citizens, to engage with students from a variety of cultures. We are actively recruiting students all around the world."

Since being established as a public university in 1995, Royal Roads educational model has focused largely on graduate programs for working professionals - much of which is done online as teams and buttressed with short residencies on campus.

But in the last few years RRU has branched out to more year-long undergraduate programs, where students attend classes each day similar to a traditional university. International students, who typically pay thousands of dollars more in tuition than Canadian students, are helping fill those seats.

Azeez Ogedengbe, a 26-year-old from Nigeria in the masters in global management program, said the accelerated one year program was key for him to apply to RRU.

"That most of the students are professionals, it seems like a great opportunity to meet a diverse group of people," Ogedengbe said.

After going to university in Ontario for a few years, he said moving to Colwood was an easy decision. "It's not a big adjustment, it's a relaxed pace here," he said. "I'm looking forward to the weather. I'll take the rain over snow any day."

Rachel Karlapudy, 28, who works for IBM in Hyderabad, India, said it's tough being separated from her husband and daughter, but getting an advance degree is critical for her career. To finish the degree and an internship in 18 months brought her half way around the world.

"It's my fifth day in Canada. I love this place - it's beautiful," Karlapudy said on Friday. "My landlady is an angel. She's taken me everywhere."

Pather said the university is eager to import a broader range of ideas and perspectives to complement the majority-Canadian student body.

"It's about having diversity in the classroom, diversity in gender, age, ethnicity, culture and religious views," he said. "In the classroom you must have multiple perspectives. It enriches the learning environment."

Royal Roads, originally set up to house cadets in close quarters as a military college, doesn't have near the capacity to shelter hundreds of students. Most of the international students live in home-stays in Langford and Colwood.

"Because we are small, specialized university, we don't have the required on-campus housing," Pather said. "We've reached out into the community, we're tapping into the community as a resource."

People interested in hosting a student can contact