Jessica Klymchuk, News Editor Ω
Despite worries that they might not even make it into the country, international student enrolment is up.
The Professional Association of Foreign Service Workers union and Citizen and Immigration Canada went on strike last April and TRU was immediately worried that international students would have trouble getting their visas. However, there are over 1700 international students registered this term, up about 6 per cent from last year.
“We were concerned right from day one,” said Adrian Conradi, associate director of international student services.
Although TRU began to prepare for trouble, Conradi said they believed the strike would be short-lived.
“We figured the Canadian government would be very concerned about the impact, not only on post-secondary institutions but on [kindergarten to grade 12] schools as well, and the tourist industry because many countries require a visa just to come for a visit to Canada,” he said.
TRU’s first response was to contact select embassies, such as Beijing and Shanghai, and notify them that TRU would be accepting international students up until the last day to add or drop classes, Sept. 17, rather than the beginning of the semester. It also notified them not to reject late visas because those students would be deferred to January.
“In other words, we would honour all our admissions,” Conradi said. “Those were the things we communicated to the select embassies and it seemed to work very well.”
The students who were affected the most were the in-bound exchange students Conradi said. Those students come from Europe or Australia and don’t need a study-permit to come for one term, but do need it if they stay for more than six months. He also noted that those students were stressed because they were unsure if they would be able to get visas and stay for their full planned year.
Despite the job action, things went as smooth as any other year, with the least amount of visa rejections ever and no notable increase in late arrivals.
Conradi attributes the success to TRU World’s efforts in training its network of agents to prevent students from making errors on applications.
The number of returning international students is also very high, which adds to a higher total overall.
Conradi sends praise all over campus to those who work towards student retention, such as international student advisory, international student admissions, career education and student services in general.
“There are people all over campus that contribute to the student engagement and student support aspect, which definitely plays a role,” Conradi said.