Magda Fusaro Headshot
Magda Fusaro
Rector - Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
Part of the Spotlight on Montreal: Canada’s Top Student City

Internationalization in Montreal’s Universities


  1. University, government and industry support make it easy for international students to start careers and settle down in Montreal.
  2. With thriving technological sectors and a high concentration of global research experts, Montreal attracts a lot of new talent every year.
  3. Montreal offers safety and a high quality of life, which makes it more appealing for students, workers and investors.


The right support from academia, industry and government have to be in place to allow international students to thrive in Montreal. Scholarships, work opportunities and ease of visa applications are three key factors for ensuring Montreal continues to attract global talent.

Please introduce yourself and Université du Québec à Montréal, and tell us how it fits into Montreal’s university ecosystem. 

Thank you for the question. I joined UQAM University almost 20 years ago as a student and now hold many different positions, one of which is as a professor of Management Information Systems (MIS). I also hold an academic position as Director of the Information Technology (IT) Program as well as an administrative position as vice-rector of IT. Since 2018, I have been the rector of this beautiful university.

UQAM is a very young university. It is part of the network of Université du Québec, a network of 10 universities spread all over the Province of Quebec. 

The most important characteristic of UQAM is that it has a very young, engaged, inclusive and democratic campus. One of the biggest values we want to promote is the fact that we are very international. We have a high amount of specializations in different academic studies and we have great diversity in our academic staff.

“UQAM is located in the cultural quarter of Montreal, which is flourishing.“

UQAM is located in the cultural quarter of Montreal, which is flourishing. We have a lot of partnerships with various companies in Montreal’s ecosystem as well as with education companies and organizations. UQAM is well-known as a vibrant university that is central to the ecosystem where we want to develop partnerships and strong academic studies.

How would you describe Montreal’s academic ecosystem and its position as a global university city? 

We are very lucky, because in 2017, Montreal was recognized as the best university city. Montreal has about eleven universities within two miles of each other, so we are all very close to one another and hence we collaborate a lot. We have an incredibly safe environment here. There are many people who want to come and study and work in a city like Montreal. I will not say it is easy to do so but the possibility to achieve this is high. My own experiences are a good example. I came as a student 20 years ago and am now a rector of UQAM. It is not as easy in other cities for people to come and get a career as it is in Montreal. It is certainly not as easy in London or Paris. On the other hand, Montreal offers access to great universities and more. 

Montreal is home to some of the world’s leading researchers. They chose to work in Montreal in our thriving sectors of artificial intelligence (AI), aerospace, environment, arts and sciences, education, politics, social politics and of course, health. There are so many great researchers in engineering and medicine here. This means that Montreal has great labs and research centres. All the stakeholders of this environment, including the researchers, are not working alone. They are constantly trying to make networks and develop their fields of specialization. Montreal has big clusters for AI, aerospace, health sciences and more. 

Montreal is also a very safe city. You can go out in the evening or morning. You can have a great quality of life, which is one of the most attractive points of Montreal. It is a very affordable city. 

“Twenty percent of the population of Montreal speaks a third language.”

Montreal is an international city with different people from all around the world coming to live and work here. There is great internationalization here. It is not just a buzzword here as we practice it every day in every field. We have two base languages here, French and English, and on top of that, twenty percent of the population of Montreal speaks a third language.

What proportion of international students remain in Montreal after graduation and what are the programs to aid this transition?

There are 11 universities in Montreal with a [inaudible 00:12:15] centre. The 11 universities in Montreal have a combined student population of 200,000 students, with 50,000 being international students. 

Most of the students who come from abroad are not undergraduates. They are typically here to pursue graduate studies, Master’s degrees, PhDs and post-doctoral studies. It is easier for these students to remain in the city after their program is done and more difficult for the undergraduate students as they usually go back home. Why? Sometimes, undergraduate students are unable to finish their programs and you need a diploma in order to apply to different immigration programs in Quebec. Reforms in the Quebec Experience Program have now made it more possible for students to stay.

Why is internationalization important and how well are Montreal’s universities succeeding in that respect? 

I am a true believer in internationalization. My experience of my career and having come from different countries, including France and Italy, has made me a true believer. People need to be open-minded and learn to live with one another in order to tackle challenging issues. We need to learn to understand each other better. Once the students are here, we need to make efforts to understand their culture. Most of the time, this can be quite difficult, but thanks to different programs from the government and organizations like Montréal International, we get all the advice and investment we need to help settle students. We also have different resources to convince people to come from around the world and stay in Montreal. 

“Universities need to have strong connections with the government to facilitate assistance for international student visas and jobs.”

It is not only a question of diversifying society but also maturing it. If a city wants to have different cultures mixed together and offer opportunities to people from all over the world, we will need to have the right scholarships for students. We will also need to have partnerships with companies to give students jobs. Universities need to have strong connections with the government to facilitate assistance for international student visas and jobs.

Internationalization is a concrete way to develop universities.

Why should foreign companies invest in Montreal?

I will give you three examples that are all important for globalization. Montreal is very safe, diverse and open. It has great expertise in almost every major field. You can develop relationships with companies, universities and government. It is a tripartite relationship. If I had a company now, I would want to have this level of access. In Montreal, foreign investors have access to the best companies and academic institutions and can also count on assistance from government programs. Invest in Montreal to save cash and also have the opportunity to be part of a vibrant, cultural, economic, diverse, inclusive and beautiful multinational society.

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Magda Fusaro Headshot
Magda Fusaro
Rector - Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

Bio: Magda Fusaro is the rector at Université du Québec à Montréal. She is also a professor at the university as well as an academic administrator. She was the UNESCO Chair in Communication and Technologies for Development for 12 years, from December 2006 to Match 2018. She was also Director of the Information Technology programs at UQAM.


Organization Profile: Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) is a public university based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is a French-language university and it is the largest constituent element of the Université du Québec system. It has a total of 310 distinct programs of study managed by six faculties as well as one School of Management