Ontario Colleges Set New Rules to Better Support International Students
As more and more students choose Ontario, the province's colleges have created new rules to ensure international students get the information and help they deserve.
A huge number of international students choose Ontario, Canada, as their study abroad destination — and for good reason. Ontario is Canada's largest province, home to about 40% of the country's total population. Toronto, Canada's largest city, is in southern Ontario, which helps make the province attractive to newcomers.
As the Covid era wanes, more and more people are returning to in-person learning, which means coming to Ontario to study. In an effort to better serve international students, Colleges Ontario, an organization representing the province's many public colleges, has unveiled new rules and standards around recruiting and supporting international students (PDF).
23 Ontario Colleges have signed the agreement so far, of 24 total schools. (Only Seneca College is holding out for now; they may sign in future.)
Let's take a quick look at some of the improvements that will, hopefully, make your life easier:
1. Clear marketing and recruitment materials
Colleges have agreed to make marketing materials more transparent about what to expect from your school — and what schools will expect from you.
In the coming months, you can expect to find more info on topics like:
- Entry requirements, like your grades and language skills
- Cost and availability of local housing on- and off-campus
- Types of part-time work available while you study
- Services open to you, such as healthcare and academic supports
One of the most exciting is the profile of current students at the campus, meaning you'll get a sense of which students are currently studying at a given school: where they come from, what they study, and what they go on to do after graduation.
This kind of info can only help in making an informed decision. We can't wait to see the student profiles from each college!
2. International agent training
We've spoken about education agents in the past. Working with an agent can help some students understand and take advantage of the options available to students. Unfortunately, some agents have been found to have acted unethically in their recruitment efforts.
Now, agents working with Ontario colleges will have to abide by the marketing rules outlined above, at risk of having their agreements terminated by the school.
Further, agents will be required to complete a training program endorsed by Colleges Ontario. Details on this implementation are sparse, but in theory these actions should help bring agent behaviours in line with the high standards expected of college partners.
3. Making the transition to the Ontario education system
You can expect to see new orientation programs to ease your transition, and not only when you first arrive. Orientation sessions will run throughout the duration of your stay in an effort to better welcome you to Ontario.
Schools have also committed to making clear what services you're entitled to when you're a student. This overlaps with the marketing and recruitment transparency discussed above, and includes things like:
- Finding affordable housing
- Accessibility supports
- Integrating into the local community
- Anti-racism initiatives
- Personal finance and banking
- ...and much more
The goal is that international students feel supported — like their college has your back no matter what.
4. Standardizing support services
International students access the same support services as domestic students, but they often have specialized needs on top. Colleges, in partnership with their local communities, will ensure that students have access to essential care, no matter where they study. This means areas like:
- Health and medical insurance
- Safety and security on- and off-campus
- Mental health and well-being supports
- Academic supports at all stages of your education
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion of all students
5. Continued support after graduation
Graduating can be scary. Ontario colleges have committed to ongoing support for graduating students who want to stay in the province. This means:
- Sharing info from the provincial and federal governments on immigration
- Helping students understand and acquire a post-graduate work permit, if available
- Offering employment services to new grads
- Connecting graduates with alumni networks
It's worth noting that many of these supports and services are already in place to varying degrees across Ontario's colleges. This new initiative aims to standardize practices across the province, to ensure that no matter where you study as an international student, you'll get the info and aid you require to be successful, at home or abroad.
You should also be aware that in Ontario, there's a difference between public colleges and private colleges. Ontario is home to 24 public colleges, 23 of whom have signed this new standards agreement. Ontario also has a number of private "career" colleges, which are not beholden to this agreement. That said, some private colleges partner with public ones — any private college with such a partnership must also follow these new guidelines!
More info on the specific implementations of these plans will come in the future, but for today, this is a positive step that should help international students feel confident about choosing an Ontario college.
Read more about the coming changes in Ontario