Sheridan president going to China for new education partnerships

File: Dr. Jeff Zabudsky, president of Sheridan College, poses on campus. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star)

The president of Sheridan College is joining a trade mission to China next week to seek new partnerships and look into a possible satellite campus in the future.

Starting Tuesday, Jeff Zabudsky will be in China with Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell and Oakville Mayor Rob Burton to help promote Sheridan’s key campuses in their GTA communities.

Sheridan’s Brampton campus has 5,000 students, many foreign-born, and teaches engineering, business, technology and other subjects. The college’s main campus is in Oakville on Trafalgar Rd. and began in the late 1960s. Overall Sheridan has more than 17,000 students.

Sheridan also has a new school in Mississauga, the Hazel McCallion campus near Square One with room for about 1,800 students, mainly in business.

Since May of last year, Sheridan College staff have been looking into Canadian-Chinese educational partnerships for the growing number of international students drawn to Sheridan’s animation, engineering technology and business programs.

Zabudsky said the new programs would be two years of study in China and then two years at Sheridan. “Ultimately, we may see the day where we open our own campus which would be focused on a number of program areas,” he told YourMississaugaBiz.com.

“And China has identified animation as an area they’d like to see grow in certain parts of the country.”

While Zabudsky said he doesn’t have anything to announce just yet, he hopes that may change in future.

“We would love to see the day that we have a permanent presence in other parts of the world. Certainly within a five-year horizon we’ve been thinking about having a campus established there.”

Sheridan already has a relationship with the Communication University of China in Beijing as well as many student recruitment officers in the country speaking with potential students and at trade fairs.

Since May 2012, Zabudsky said staff have made many trips to China to look at prospective partners and Chinese educators have also made visits to Sheridan.

The move is part of a larger trend among colleges and universities to attract more international students to help fill the student pipeline and keep their schools filled. Foreign-born students also pay up to three times higher tuition for their courses.

Zabudsky said the number of international students at Sheridan has grown from 500 in 2010 to more than 2,500 last year.

Fennell and Burton are part of a broader 10-day trade mission organized by the Confederation of Greater Toronto Chinese Business Association. Companies ranging from fish importers to manufacturers and retailers are hoping to build ties to open up import trade with China.

And while Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion isn’t involved in this particular trip, Zabudsky said she has definitely been involved in Sheridan’s efforts abroad especially during a trip to China earlier this year.

GTA communities also stand to benefit from the new educational partnerships. Zabudsky acknowledged an increased number of international students would definitely have an economic impact, through off-campus housing and increased tourism linked to family visits. “The spin-off is huge,” he said.

Earlier this year, Sheridan College was cited as the top school for animation, gaming and design by the industry website Animation Career Review, which called the school the “Harvard of animation.”

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