International students enrich the culture and vibrancy of our communities. Many begin their studies as a pathway to citizenship in Canada, often carrying the burden of expectations of their families, while facing additional obstacles that are atypical of the domestic learner experience.
Recognizing these challenges, the City of Brampton and Sheridan College convened a Roundtable in fall 2021. Using a collective impact approach, it brought together a wide range of community leaders interested in developing an integrated strategy to help international students thrive.
Over the course of six months, this planning committee worked to define the problems being faced, identify gaps and barriers, share existing research, knowledge and lived experiences, and propose ideas and solutions.
Collective Impact Model
The Roundtable’s efforts were inspired by the Collective Impact model, published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, which provides a framework for tackling complex social-change efforts. The model is based on cross-sector coordination, not the sum of isolated interventions by individual organizations. It brings stakeholders together around a common agenda, a unified vision for change, a shared understanding of the problem and a collective approach to actions, reporting and accountability.
The organizers wish to thank the following individuals whose collective efforts built the foundation for the summit:
- Gurpreet Malhotra, CEO, Indus Community Services
- Bill Boyes, Fire Chief, City of Brampton
Members at large
- Baldev Mutta, Chief Executive Officer, Punjabi Community Health Services
- Dr. Janet Morrison, President & Vice-Chancellor, Sheridan College
- Rowena Santos, Councillor, City of Brampton
- Janice Sheehy, Former Commissioner, Region of Peel
- Sean Baird, Commissioner, Region of Peel
- Dr. Kate Bingham, Acting Medical Officer of Health, Region of Peel
- Chief Nishan Duraiappah, Peel Regional Police
- Dr. Rardi van Heest, Vice President Medical Affairs, Research & Academics at William Osler Health System
- Sharanjeet Kaur, Director, Executive Projects and Operations. William Osler Health System
- Todd Letts, CEO, Brampton Board of Trade
- Jaspreet Kaur Bal, Ontario Vice President, World Sikh Organization
- Sinthusha Panchalingam, Clinical Director, Canadian Mental Health Association, Peel Dufferin
- Jaspreet Singh, Founder, International Students’ Association
- Dr. Amira El Masri, Director, Center for Global Education and Internationalization
- Rajan Sandhu, VP Strategic Alignment and General Counsel, Sheridan College
- Christine Szustaczek, VP External Relations, Sheridan College
- Nauman Khan, AVP Government Relations, Sheridan College
- Keera Smiechowicz, Executive Assistant, Sheridan College
- Jaskaran Sandhu, Principal, State Strategy
The following resources may help to further your understanding of the challenges faced by international students:
- Invited & Forgotten: International Students in Crisis
(Indus Community Services & Punjabi Community Health Services)
- The Realities for International Students: Evidenced Challenges
(One Voice Canada)
- International Students Needs Assessment Report
(Peel Newcomer Strategy Group)
- Value-for-Money Audit: Public Colleges Oversight
(Office of the Auditor General of Ontario)
- Value-for-Money Audit: Private Career Colleges Oversight
(Office of the Auditor General of Ontario)
- International Students’ Lived Experiences: A Review of Literature
(Amira El Masri & Noah Khan, Sheridan College)
- Differential Treatment in Recruitment and Acceptance Rates of Foreign Students in Quebec and in the Rest of Canada
(House of Commons Canada)
- Tertiary and International Learners Code of Practice
(New Zealand Qualifications Authority)
- Invited & Forgotten: International Students in Crisis
The two-day summit that took place at Sheridan College’s Davis Campus (July 25–26, 2022) was filled with collaboration, dialogue and a sincere desire to improve student outcomes.
Organized by Sheridan and the City of Brampton and based on the work of the community Roundtable that was convened in fall 2021, the summit brought together more than 200 participants, including members of the federal, provincial and municipal governments, international students, academic researchers, postsecondary administrators, private and public colleges and community agency leaders.
Participants were inspired by the challenge to build a brighter tomorrow for international students by identifying the role that all stakeholders play in providing seamless support to enhance their experience across all stages of the student journey — as prospective students, current students, temporary workers, and, for some, even as future residents or citizens.
The work of the summit lays the foundation for the co-creation of the Brampton International Student Charter — a roadmap for making Brampton a best-practice leader in supporting international students.
Roopa Desai Trilokekar is an Associate Professor (Postsecondary Education) in the Faculty of Education at York University. She comes to an academic career after 20 years of experience as a professional in the field of international education in Canada, India and the United States. Her research focuses on government policy on international education, its links/impact on higher education and the international student experience.
Most recently, she has completed a project with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) titled "What distinguishes the international student experience in the Canadian labour market? A comparison of Two Provinces." She is also working on a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) funded project looking at the "international students as ideal immigrants" global policy discourse across Australia, Germany and Canada.
Summit materials and recap
- Summit agenda
- Participant bios
- Participating organizations
- Illustrated notes of session discussions*
*If you require this document in an accessible format please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Stories from the summit
- MPs, MPPs, councillors, community organizations push for positive change in international student experience
- International students take centre stage at Sheridan summit
- Sheridan College launches collective action to improve international student experience
News releases from the City of Brampton and Sheridan
- Two-day summit at Sheridan College paves the way for better international student support
- Community partners announce summit and charter to improve international student experience
- Researchers pinpoint gaps and offer recommendations to enhance the international student experience
- Community partners convene to improve international student experience
- Advocates in Brampton continue to push for change on improving experience for international students (Brampton Guardian)
- Over 200 leaders from postsecondary institutions, communities and all levels of government gathered at @sheridancollege to examine the systemic barriers faced by international students (OMNI TV)
- Upcoming summit at Sheridan College in Brampton on improving the international student experience (Toronto Star)
Quotes from our Speaker's corner
“The thousands of international students we have in Brampton and Canada all bring with them a pioneering spirit, and the capacity to not only learn from Canadian institutions but also give back to the community.”
– Gurpreet Malhotra, CEO Indus Community Services, Co-Chair International Student Roundtable
“One thing that could make the international student experience better is a course where mentors and professors teach us how to live in a new country, and how to adapt to our new conditions. These are things a lot of international students don't know about.”
– Andrew Ligun, Student, Sheridan College
“One thing I feel could make the international student experience better is having more in person events that give me the opportunity to meet new friends and build my network in Canada.”
– Amy Leung, Student, Sheridan College
“One thing in particular that gives me hope is that a lot of people are coming together to address the housing crisis and issues that international students face. Before the basic needs are addressed we can't support international students in any other way.”
– Parmin Dhoot, Embedded Student Advisor, BBA Programs, Sheridan College
“It's not necessarily what I've heard but it's the energy, the passion, and the commitment of everyone here today that gives me hope. Together we can find a solution for our international students to provide the utmost amazing experience for our students.”
– S Sharma, Associate Dean, Student Affairs Campus Citizenship, Student Leadership & Engagement, Sheridan College
“International students enrich Canada in many ways. They have a different world experience than students that have grown up within Canada, and their lived experiences can add to the Canadian economy and society in ways that we can't even begin to imagine.”
– Tracey Ens, AVP, Business Services, Sheridan College
“I believe international students enrich Brampton and Canada just by bringing their culture and everything they bring with them from home. This is a diverse country and having people from all over the world bringing true uniqueness into our cities is going to make everyone better.”
– Jana Marchese, Community Liaison Officer – 22 Division, Peel Regional Police
“The conference has been really great. Everybody is becoming aware of the issues and now we need to create the steps to find the solutions. International students are a key part of this community and contribute to the growth of Canada overall.”
– Jesse Poulin, guard.me International Insurance
“One thing that I believe could make the international student experience better is having a comprehensive tool guide about transitioning from your domestic country to your new country, as well as getting better access to resources and information.”
– Rebecca Matthews, Student, Sheridan College
“When (international) students arrive at the college, they don't know what to do or where to go, so providing guidance at the beginning of the process would be great.”
– Vlad Ushvarok, Student, Sheridan College
“One thing that I think could make the international student experience better is an increased amount of knowledge and information about resources and supports. There are a lot of hardships and challenges that they face when they come to Canada, so I think knowing about these resources could help alleviate some of the hardships they are facing.”
– Charmila Chand, Student, Sheridan College
“The one thing that I've heard during this Summit that gives me hope is that everyone that has spoken is willing and ready to do their part in making the international student experience a better and enriched one. That gives me a lot of hope because it's not about who is not doing what, it is about who is willing to participate in this discussion. That gives me a lot of hope.”
– Dr. Jane Ngobia, Vice President, Inclusive Communities, Sheridan College
“Today, it has all come together with all of these international students, agencies, organizations, community groups, and post-secondary institutions sharing and collaborating to create best practices on how to enhance the international student experience. I think that is what gives me the most hope, is because we're all working together to make things better for international students.”
– Rowena Santos, Councillor, Ward 1 & 5, City of Brampton
“What gives me hope is the fact that everybody has come together from the non-profit sector, the public sector, and the private sector to really make a difference and deal with this complex challenge that we have with respect to international students in our community. To see the passion and the commitment to make change has been so positive. I'm thrilled to be part of this.”
– Bill Boyes, Chief, Brampton Fire and Emergency Services and Roundtable Co-Chair
“International students play a big role in the Canadian economy. Many international students are staying in Brampton because of the number of colleges in the city as well as the work opportunities available close by. Brampton needs people to work and international students need a place where they can study and at the same time, work (for a living).”
– Jaspreet Singh
“International students are the biggest strength that Brampton has...anywhere identity is affirmed, cultural belonging happens and people thrive. International students have created this huge capacity and have input language, music, culture, and essentially revived the Punjabi and Sikh community here in Brampton. We're so honoured to work with them and they are amongst the folks that we know that work the hardest and bring the biggest strengths into the community.”
– Jaspreet Bal, Vice President, Ontario, World Sikh Organization
“If there is one thing that gives me hope, it's that our international students haven't given up on us. Despite hearing that some of these challenges have persisted for decades, and other challenges only recently emerged, it's really encouraging to know that our international students see us as partners. And that they are willing to work with us, despite how laborious that is for them, to help us ameliorate a future for them today, and in the future.”
– Sheldon Pereira, Vice Provost, Student Experience and Enrolment Management
“International students enrich this country by showing us diversity, by showing us different cultures, by getting us to learn and understand other cultures that are around. Canada being one of the most multi-cultural countries in the world gives us more depth and understanding of what the world can do.”
– Keith Segal, President and CEO, guard.me International Insurance
“The international student summit has been so motivating over the last few days. Seeing so many stakeholders from the community come together, sharing their vision, experience, and passion for supporting international students has been amazing...I'm excited to see what comes from the Brampton Charter.”
– Erin De Jong, Health Promotion Specialist, Student Affairs, Sheridan College
“International students are a vital part of our community, both in Brampton and Canada. They come with a lot of experience and bring diversity to Canada...I think international students, with their experience, qualifications, and passion are a productive part of the community.”
– Jaspreet Kaur, Alumna, Sheridan College
The Brampton Charter for International Student Success will keep the work going and create a concrete action plan that will make a positive difference in the lives of international students who choose to study and stay in Brampton. Our community charter will include shared principles, recommended actions and a mechanism for accountability.
The charter will build on key learnings that were gleaned from research on accountability measures and their impact, various charters that exist for postsecondary institutions, and legislative instruments — a few of which were presented at the summit.
Our summit sessions were structured to present information, foster dialogue and seek multiple viewpoints. The many compelling ideas that emerged will be used to inform our forthcoming charter.
We hope that our work will inspire other jurisdictions to adopt similar community charters of their own, creating a national network of organizations that choose to hold themselves and each other accountable to provide a seamless and successful international student experience.
Finalizing the Charter
Fall 2022–Winter 2023: Engagement with community organizations, municipal, provincial and federal governments, industry and student groups.
Spring 2023: Finalize the charter