These post-secondary disruptors are looking at an innovative way of delivering advanced education that provides access and saves money for international students.
And this solution comes from university faculty members in both Canada and the Middle East.
Omid Titidezh, Mohammad Fard and Fatemah Babaei are the founders of the International Education Platform – IEP Canada. Their goal is to provide students in international locations the same ability to study at international post-secondary schools.
Their goal is to break down barriers. These include cost, language, culture shock, visa issues and the different style of a university.
It’s a blended style of learning; students can study from their home country for a semester at an international university through online courses. They get a feel for it, and then enroll and physically attend. All while applying for visas and familiarizing themselves with international learning.
“You don’t need to go to a specific branded university and get the degree from there,” said Fard.
“A Canadian student goes to school for four years at a Canadian university; they can complete the first or second year in other countries and save money and have the experience of other countries and universities.”
International experience plays a role
Both Titidezh and Fard were international students.
“I have actually been exposed to a degree, the different levels of common issues that international students face,” said Titidezh, the company’s CEO and a visiting professor at the University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business.
Obviously, cost is a major hurdle for international students. Fard said if a student completes the first semester or two in their home country, they’re saving $10,000 to $14,000. They also save time by making a visa application.
“We provide a kind of pre arrival preparation program so they can be prepared in advance before coming to Canada,” he said.
In addition, while studying online at an international university – from their home country – it exposes them further to the language and the expectations of that school.
The culmination of experiences both as students who studied abroad and as faculty that have taught abroad, helps them understand the range of concerns for international students.
The advantage for universities, they said, is a secured stream of qualified and prepared international students.
Building university connections
Both Fard and Titidezh have experience with startups, so they know the challenging road ahead.
They’re working with the Platform Calgary Junction program to build a solid foundation to fine tune as they deliver their solution to different universities.
Seeking out partner universities and students interested in learning abroad while first staying at home – that’s the biggest challenge.
“We are building channels with different universities for different programs and whatever program the students need,” said Fard.