Vancouver Community College develops pilot initiative to improve program experience for international students

Joanna Yao moved to Vancouver when she was 19 years old to learn English, enroll in post-secondary education, and create more opportunities for her future. Joanna is one of many international students currently enrolled in Vancouver Community College’s two-year Hospitality Management diploma program. “This program has opened so many doors for me,” says Joanna. “More importantly, it’s encouraged me to stay in Vancouver, continue with my studies at the degree level, and start my career in hospitality after I graduate.”

“The Hospitality Management program has the largest number of international students at VCC,” says Monique Paassen, Department Head. “Over the years we saw enrollment numbers changing with more international students coming in.”

With the high numbers of international students taking part in the Hospitality Management program, VCC staff developed a pilot initiative to better the experience of their international student body.

“We asked ourselves, what can we do to make this program a great experience for international students, and what intercultural training can we provide our faculty,” says Monique.

Staff connected with VCC’s ESL department and together they reviewed program curriculum, liaised with other institutions on their internationalization efforts, and coordinated new intercultural workshops for faculty.

VCC has been tracking the initiative over the past two years, with Joanna’s cohort being the first to take part in the revised offerings.

“We can’t track the value international students bring to our program,” cites Monique. “But what we can track is their assessment of the changes we made. These students bring a cultural perspective to our industry, and this pilot initiative was the first step in recognizing that.”