One on One Webinar: A Year Into COVID

The third session in our One on One webinar series featured a round-table discussion with representatives from higher education institutions across Canada:

After a year of lockdown measures and travel restrictions, the conversation revolved around how institutions in different parts of Canada have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic and what their outlook is for the future. Moderated by Canada Campus Visits President Husain F. Neemuchwala, points mentioned include:

  • Challenges institutions should expect to face as students return
  • Changes that educators have made to maintain the student experience
  • Steps that must be taken before institutions re-open and students are back on campus

We and our partners, Agents.CARE and the Canada India Education Council, thank all of the attendees who made this webinar a success. Canada Campus Visits is proud to play a role in facilitating such engaging and insightful discussions.

Canadian Universities Return to In-Person Learning in September

Source: Study International

As COVID-19 vaccines are being administered to Canadians across the country, a sense of normalcy is beginning to return. Universities, colleges, and other designated learning institutions now have the confidence to plan for Fall and Winter semesters that involve students on campus.

Institutions in different provinces must follow their own public safety guidelines before welcoming students back to classes at pre-pandemic levels. As a result of this, the re-opening of campuses is happening faster in some parts of Canada and more gradually in others.

While McGill University and the University of British Columbia expect the upcoming Fall semester to feature in-person classes, hybrid classroom models are being proposed elsewhere. Both the University of Windsor and the University of Ottawa will use online and regular classes when they welcome students again.

We encourage you to read the original article to see what more institutions intend to do later this year. If there are specific universities or colleges you are interested in, be sure to visit their websites for the most accurate information.

people looking at laptop computer

International Students Discuss Studying Abroad During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The thought of studying abroad during a global pandemic may seem daunting to many. However international students in countries around the world are managing as best they can while they pursue their higher education overseas. In the above video, THE Student asked five overseas students about their university experiences in the age of COVID-19.

The students highlighted a rage of topics from what the visa application process was like to advice on making friends in online lectures. They also shared their most important tips for anyone who is thinking about their own study abroad experience in the future.

man sitting on a green grass field

Relief for International Students As Canada Extends Work Permits Due to COVID-19

Beginning January 27, foreign nationals in Canada with an expired or soon-to-be-expired post-graduation work permit can apply for an 18-month extension

In a recent media release for the University of Toronto, author Yanan Wang interviewed Nana Sakyi, an international student from Ghana who recently completed a master’s degree in Canada. The article, dated January 27 2021, shed light on the apprehensions and nervousness of several International students like Sakyi, following a global pandemic that brought the world to a halt. 

In addition to health risks posed by the novel coronavirus, for international students the last several months were particularly uncertain because of the possibility that their work permits would run out before they find employment, putting their immigration status at risk.

Luckily, in an effort to ease the strain on international students who are graduating from post-secondary institutions amid the pandemic, the federal government recently announced a plan that will give them more time to find work. Foreign nationals in Canada with an expired or soon-to-be-expired post-graduation work permit can currently apply for an 18-month extension.

The policy seeks to help foreign nationals who are currently in Canada meet the requisite work hours to be eligible to apply for permanent residence.

“The work permit extension gives international graduates another year and a half to contribute to the Canadian workforce. That’s a huge benefit to Canada and the individual students who wish to take it up,” said Katherine Beaumont, senior director of global learning opportunities and international student success at U of T’s Centre for International Experience (CIE).

Beaumont added that the centre plans to make more international students aware of the new policy through alumni newsletters and the university’s career development resources. In response to a growing international student population and an increased need for guidance and advice on the documentation required to be an international student in Canada, U of T has increased the number of certificated international student immigration advisers based at CIE.  As a result, CIE has been able to increase immigration advising to students by a factor of four since the pandemic began – all while adding new ways to serve students, including online and phone appointments, webinars and drop-ins.

 “A lot of international students were very, very happy about this policy because this gives them the time to work towards starting the permanent residence process,” said Pooja Gupta, who earned her engineering master’s degree last year from U of T’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering and serves as president of the school’s International Students’ Council.

“Canada’s immigration policies are what gives the country an edge in terms of attracting talent.”

Source: University of Toronto

focused men with notebooks at table

Past International Students in Canada Now Eligible for New Open Work Permit

Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, international students who have recently graduated now face a difficult situation if they hold a post-graduation work permit (PGWP). For these new graduates to apply for permanent residence in Canada, they are required to work a certain number of hours to gain experience. However with lockdown measures in place throughout so many communities, this is difficult to accomplish before the deadline.

The Government of Canada has acted to help international students by giving current and former PGWP holders the chance to apply for an open work permit that will be valid for 18 months. This decision aims to assist overseas students who either held or still hold a PGWP by letting them continue their job search in these uncertain times. Foreign nationals will be able to apply from January 27 to July 27, 2021.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino said, “Our message to international students and graduates is simple: we don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here.”

In 2019, an excess of 58,000 graduates applied to immigrate to Canada and the government seeks to increase this number further in the years to come. It values study abroad students as not just new contributors to the economy but skilled immigrants who, with their top-tier Canadian education and work experience, can help the nation return to strength post-pandemic.

Post-Secondary Students in Canada Facing Financial Pressure

Source: Global News

As college and university students in Canada prepare for the end of the Fall semester, the financial impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is becoming more apparent. A recent Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) study found that 70% of students had either lost their jobs or were working reduced hours.

“Students are really feeling the pressure especially now and are worried about what’s to come next year, as well as what’s already built up and accumulated this year,” CFS Deputy Chairperson Nicole Brayiannis said.

The University of Saskatchewan has provided students with some of the financial assistance they need in this time of uncertainty. According to Patti McDougall, Vice-Provost of Teaching, Learning and Student Experience, the university has shared in excess of $1.3 million in funding to students in the middle of March 2020. This aid aims to help students afford expenses such as groceries and rent. McDougall stated that much of this funding went to international students who were unable to apply for government aid programs like the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).

While the federal government continues to promote programs like the CESB, the CFS claims that by not investing in students through more direct means, they may be financially harming the country in the years to come. Brayiannis said, “If we don’t start to act now on issues that we’re already seeing building and exasperating at this moment, we’re not going to be able to fix ourselves long term.”

COVID-19 Guide for International Students Arriving in Canada

The federal government has released a guide for international students who are coming to Canada, and navigating travel restrictions. It’s called “COVID-19: Guide for International Students in Canada Arriving from Abroad.” The government outlines the roles and responsibilities of designated learning institutions (DLIs), provinces and territories and the government of Canada in supporting international students. The guide is aligned with health advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Any international student or their accompanying family members with symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board their flight. If symptoms show up upon arrival in Canada, a health Canada officer will perform a screening and the person may not be allowed to enter, or transported to a hospital for a medical examination. International students are allowed to come to Canada to go to school at an institution that has a coronavirus readiness plan. The list of approved institutions are kept up-to-date on the Government of Canada website.

International students need a study permit or study permit approval, but this is not a travel authorization in and of itself. IRCC will communicate with students once the travel authorization has been granted. This authorization may be cancelled if there are any changes in circumstances at their school, or the province or territory.

In order to be given access to come to Canada, international students need to show border services officer that they are entering Canada for non-discretionary purposes, and that they are studying at one of the approved DLIs, among other requirements. International students may be refused entry if they do not meet these requirements.

Immediate family members may be allowed to accompany international students. This would include students’ spouses, dependent children, or their legal parent or guardian if they are a minor. Family members must also show border officers that they are travelling for a non-optional, non-discretionary reason, such as helping the student get established in Canada.

International students and their accompanying family members must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. They need to wear a mask or face covering during travel, including to their place of quarantine. Before coming to Canada students need to make a quarantine plan. Border officers will also consider this plan, when determining if the student can enter the country. While in quarantine, students should ensure that they have individual accommodations, and that they monitor themselves for symptoms. They should avoid public and shared spaces. They also need to arrange to have access to basic necessities like food and medicine. In addition to physical distancing, they need to avoid contact with people who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults, and people with underlying medical conditions, or who are immunocompromised.

Places with shared living accommodations, such as hostels, are not acceptable for quarantine or isolation. International students living with other people, such as with a host family or homestay provider, will need to self-isolate from other members in the accommodation or home. This means having a separate bedroom and washroom if possible. It also means physical distancing from other household members and frequently disinfecting surfaces.

Minors must also undergo mandatory quarantine. Parents or guardians must ensure that appropriate arrangements have been made for their child before they leave for their home country. Also, international students are asked to confirm their eligibility for heath-care coverage and Canada. If they are not covered, they can get private insurance that includes COVID-19 coverage before departure.

Virtual Open Houses, The New Normal for Canadian Campuses?

First Ever Virtual Open Houses Organized By Montreal based Concordia University and Halifax’s Dalhousie University saw a huge success with prospective students logging in from all over the world

Open houses have been a long standing tradition at several campuses. Open houses and information sessions are one of the best ways to determine whether or not a university is the right fit for prospective students. Open houses are more than an exploration of a campus. They provide students with valuable insights into program options, university life and the overall campus experience. This year, as we all know COVID-19 has changed a lot of things. Under the current public health guidelines, most of the Canadian Universities are opting for Virtual Open Houses.

Among many others, one of the most recent Canadian campuses to host a virtual open house is Concordia University. Located in the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Montreal, Quebec, Concordia University is one of Canada’s most innovative and diverse campuses. Concordia provides a wide range of innovative programs and courses that offer an unique and rewarding educational experience. Concordia boasts small classes, accessible and award-winning professors, and an affordable education. Concordia held its first-ever virtual undergraduate Open House on Saturday, October 24. Despite the switch to an online environment, the university says the open house was a massive success and participants shared overwhelmingly positive feedback. Attendees also had the opportunity to chat with recruiters and faculty members in real-time in addition to attending informational Zoom meetings. Out of the 2,300 prospective undergrads who attended the online event, about 35% of attendees were international students. And a total of 109 countries were represented in the University’s open house. The University also reported that students continue to visit the Open House web page for resources. All of the content  presentations, videos and documents are available online until November 23.

Another remarkable feat achieved by a Canadian campus in bringing the university community together to welcome prospective undergraduate students and give them a taste of life virtually is Dalhousie University. More than 3,400 students registered for the event. Prospective students also have the opportunity to view recorded and on-demand content over the next 30 days. While the university is thrilled with the incredible number of attendees, they’re even more excited by the resulting applications to the university.

“Open House is a significant opportunity to inspire prospective students to apply,” says Kristen Sutherland, associate registrar and director, student recruitment and undergraduate admissions. “It also provides applicants the ability to make strong connections and map their next steps on their path to Dalhousie. We are encouraged by the level of engagement at the event and delighted by the number of students who have chosen to apply. Virtual Open House has demonstrated that the Dalhousie community is committed to supporting future students in new and innovative ways.”

New Immigration Pathways for International Students in Canada

Canada Is Looking At Making It A Lot Easier For International Students To Live And Work In Canada

In a recent development, Canada is looking at offering more permanent residence pathways to foreign nationals and International students who are already in the country. This news comes after the announcement that Canada would welcome over 400,000 immigrants per year over the next three years, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told Bloomberg that the federal government will make a formal announcement on this soon.

The immigration minister also added that it is important for Canada to identify how it can accelerate pathways to permanent residence for international students, temporary foreign workers, and asylum seekers who are already in the country. This is necessary to alleviate the economic challenges Canada is currently facing in part due to lower immigration levels caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both permanent and temporary residents have dropped significantly this year. After a net increase of more than 190,000 temporary residents in 2019, the first half of 2020 has seen that number decrease to 18,221. Permanent resident numbers are down 60 per cent year-over-year according to government data from August. Based on its current pace, Canada is set to welcome only 200,000 or so permanent residents this year.

Mendicino told Bloomberg that making temporary residents permanent will address Canada’s short-term needs to respond to coronavirus. He also said it will help address Canada’s long-term demographic challenges, which include an aging population and low birth rate. These two factors mean that more gaps will be created in the labour market as the older population retires. With a low natural growth rate, Canada will need immigrants in order to sustain the population and ensure that open positions in the labour force are filled.

The government will look at the foreign talent that is already in Canada in order to find the asylum seekers, students, and workers who have the skills that align with essential services in the economy, Mendicino told Bloomberg.

He also said that students from other countries are “particularly attractive” as potential counter forces to the effects of an aging population. Because of this, the government is making it easier for them to work in Canada.

Additionally, Canada is allowing online study at a Canadian designated learning institution between May 2020 and April 2021 to count towards future Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility. The PGWP is coveted among international students because it enables them to gain the Canadian work experience they often need to be eligible for a range of economic class immigration programs. These programs include Express Entry’s Canadian Experience Class, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and Quebec Experience Program. Canada has also recently opened up its borders to students who are enrolled in classes at post-secondaries that have COVID-19 readiness plans.

Chinese Students Say They Still Plan to Study in Canada

Source: University Affairs | Image Credit: Kochstrasse

Some overseas students have found themselves worried about moving to North America for their studies due to ongoing racial tensions. While a recent article in University Affairs highlights students from Asian countries, this group certainly is not the first to experience such apprehension. While any instance of racism on a Canadian college or university campus will be dealt with by the proper authorities, the fact remains that even one racist incident is too many.

International students coming to Canada should know that faculty and their fellow students will support them if they need to talk or feel worried about stories they see online. Campuses in Canada are largely very multicultural with students who come from all walks of life. Many have felt the same way and are more than happy to help newcomers through what they might be going through. When it comes to equality, we are all in this together.