Saint Mary’s University is thriving in the global context. With students coming from 119 countries and a faculty complement that is equally diverse, it is easy to see why Saint Mary’s University President, Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, has noted with pride that Saint Mary’s is one of Canada’s top international universities. 

The Sobey School of Business, with its student population comprising 50% Canadians and 50% international students, is a large part of the university’s success. Since 2012, Sobey School has strategically pursued activities to further ensure the school’s successful internationalization. 


In 2018, we can confirm that anecdotally, we see our student body benefitting from their immersion in a broad spectrum of cultural and national perspectives.


 Our student societies’ executives are internationally diverse without adding a specific “international student” portfolio. Five of the last six Saint Mary's Student Association presidents have been international Sobey students.  In 2013, our AACSB Peer Review team noted that we could be a model for others when it comes to internationalization. 

Our faculty have engaged in learning to deepen their cultural sensitivity, both generally in the context of teaching here, in Nova Scotia, and particular training for our professors who have travelled to China to teach our students there.

Saint Mary’s invested $50,000, in 2013-14, in a committee process of examining ways to ensure international student success. A pool of money was made available to support community projects. Sobey staff, faculty and students engaged, putting forward several successful proposals centred on further faculty training, research and student engagement. 

One of the outcomes was a group called Speak Up!, founded by a group of Sobey students to organize engaging events designed to provide cultural exposure and conversation opportunities to international students in partnership with Canadian students: annual events include a prom, attending a football game with scoring explanation, dance classes, and more. 



We have incorporated global perspectives and intercultural learning into our curricular, research and service initiatives. 


BNUZ Graduation

In 2018, the first class graduated in Zhuhai, China from the Sobey School of Business’s joint degree program with Beijing Normal University in Zhuhai. The students received their Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) degrees from the presidents of both BNUZ and Saint Mary’s University. Sobey faculty members who teach in China, along with our Chinese alumni and university representatives, were delighted to be on hand to witness the ceremony

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In 2013, the Sobey School sponsored a group of three students, including MBA Society Ethics VP Allison Shears, to travel to the World Youth Forum for Ethics in Business in Belgium.

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Beginning in 2017, students in the Sobey MBA program have taken part in a mandatory international study trip, designed to provide an intercultural immersion and opportunities to learn about business abroad. In 2017 and 2018, students travelled to Budapest, Hungary, where they took part in activities like touring the GE offices.


Education offered to Sobey School faculty to build their experience, skills and pedagogical ability to manage international classrooms included a series on the Plurilingual Classroom, offered by The Language Centre's academic lead, Julian L'Enfant. 

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Speak Up! builds cultural connections and language skills by engaging international and Canadian students in fun cultural activities, like learning about football or attending a prom. 


Of central interest to our study is whether students overcome the natural human tendency to “homophily” – clustering with others like oneself. Our results indicate that SMU students are not unwilling to mix across cultures, but despite this openness, they do not spend as much time outside of their own cultural group as their attitudes seem to support. … Despite an apparent tendency to homophily while at school and socializing, the students themselves believe that university experience has left them changed for the better in terms of comfort with cross-cultural mixing.”

Student Internationalization Experience at SMU:
Selected observations from Sobey doctoral research




We refocused our international recruitment efforts and the result has been a more distributed diversity of nationality.



Data analyses shows that Canada and China provide the largest groups of our undergraduate students. Since 2012, both groups have dropped in number (by 1/5 in the case of Canada, 1/7 in the case of China).  However, our student cohort hailing from Caribbean islands has surged, and we’ve also seen increases from several African countries, among others. The growth has notably come in areas that the Saint Mary’s University Recruiting Office has visited regularly. 

Top ten countries with the largest cohort growth: 

  1. Bahamas
  2. Antigua and Barbuda
  3. Bangladesh
  4. Saudi Arabia
  5. India
  6. Bermuda
  7. Jamaica
  8. Nigeria
  9. Mauritius 
  10. Rwanda


At the graduate level, there has been a small increase in enrollment most notably of Ghanian students, but also those coming from Iran, India and Antigua and Barbuda.

Read more about our graduate programs


Our International Recruiters



We have extended the impact and reach of our work and scholarship through strategic partnerships and collaborations.


Relevant Reading

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Exemplifying Internationalization

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International Doctoral Consortium



The international success of our renowned PhD program has been in no small part due to the efforts of Drs. Albert and Jean Helms Mills. Both have not only fostered important international research partnerships, they have been prodigious scholars and have supervised dozens of PhD students through their own academic careers. Here, they discuss some of their research.

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Dr. Albert Mills talks about Critical Management Studies


Dr. Albert Mills talks about BIMTECH / International Doctoral Symposium


Dr. Jean Helms Mills talks about Organizational Change at NS Power.


Learn more about the work of Dr. Albert Mills
& Dr. Jean Helms Mills


Coming Up Next

Part 2: Engagement