New Global Skills Opportunity Projects Help VIU Students Gain International Experience

Global Skills Opportunity

Dozens of students at Vancouver Island University will gain global skills training through two recently announced projects.

January 14, 2022 - 2:30pm

Funding from the federal government will allow students to participate in study and research experiences abroad.

Dozens of students at Vancouver Island University (VIU) will be gaining global skills training through two recently announced projects.

The programs, Crossing Borders: Using the Power of Place to Build Connections, and the International Research Mobility Experience project will offer students international work opportunities, as well as study and research experiences to help them unlock their potential through life-changing global skills.

These programs are possible thanks to the Government of Canada’s new Global Skills Opportunity (GSO) program.

The Crossing Borders project will use place-based learning as an innovative approach to work/study abroad experiences that explore the many ways in which people understand identity. Through interdisciplinary field schools, academic exchanges and internships, VIU students will collaborate with each other and explore who they are and where they are in terms of land, culture and history, and how their sense of place influences the ways they operate in the world. An estimated 55 VIU students will benefit from $500,000 in GSO funding over the next three years to take part in Crossing Borders.

“This project is a collaborative effort involving students, faculty and student service areas,” says Jennifer Sills, Manager of VIU’s Education Abroad program. “We are leveraging existing expertise and resources from within our very own VIU community, including the Office of Indigenous Education and Engagement, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute, World Leisure Centre of Excellence, Student Affairs and Education Abroad, as well as international partnerships to provide a fully supported experience for students from start to finish."

Students "will experience profound personal, academic and professional growth as a result of these opportunities, which will have a direct impact in our classrooms and, of course, in our communities," Sills adds.

VIU students will also benefit from $799,200 in GSO funding awarded to the Canada and Latin America Research & Exchange Opportunities (CALAREO) Consortium, through the International Research Mobility Experience (IRME) project. Consortium members include VIU, Lakehead University, Carleton University, Memorial University and École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS). 

Combined with additional funding from Mitacs ($240,000), a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions and CALAREO ($40,000), the program will support an estimated 138 students to participate in medium- and short-term research internships, as well as faculty-led programs and/or field schools.

“VIU students will gain valuable experiences conducting research within international contexts and with international partners,” says Dr. Nicole Vaugeois, Associate Vice-President of Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity at VIU. “These opportunities will ensure that our students are able to experience the transformative power of international mobility and enable them to become global citizens."

A national outbound student mobility program, GSO is expected to enable more than 16,000 Canadian college and undergraduate-level university students to acquire the global skills employers want and the Canadian economy needs.

“Global Skills Opportunity is breaking down financial, social and logistical barriers that have prevented too many underrepresented students from participating in global study and work opportunities,” says Universities Canada President Paul Davidson. “Through this program, thousands of young Canadians will have transformational experience abroad.”

Study and work abroad programs “are invaluable learning experiences that ensure students are culturally literate, resilient, adaptable and ready to succeed in an increasingly globalized world,” says Colleges and Institutes Canada President Denise Amyot.

While open to all Canadian post-secondary students, the program targets groups for whom international experiences have traditionally been less accessible — specifically Indigenous students, students from low-income backgrounds and those with disabilities. It also aims to diversify destination countries where Canadian students pursue international learning. 



Eric Zimmer, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P:250.618.7296 | 

Tags: Education Abroad | Global Skills Opportunity | Teaching and Learning

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