Updates on study permits and Provincial Attestation Letters (PALs) for international students

SCAET building at Sheridan's Trafalgar Road Campus

Supporting International Students at Sheridan

Sep 22, 2021

International students are an integral and valued part of Sheridan’s diverse learning community. They choose us for our reputation, commitment to quality, and graduate outcomes. We have a long-standing and comprehensive suite of evidence-based supports specifically to help international students to flourish.

In the last year alone, we distributed more than $1M through our COVID Emergency Bursary; supported over 4000 students in 2020-21 via immigration workshops; served 1,560 hot meals to from November 2020 to May 2021; provided thousands of dollars in grocery gift cards since April 1, 2020, delivered 642 counselling appointments; increased international student use of health centres by 150% in 2020-2021;  delivered 14 week pre-arrival orientations to 6,700 students; and provided free tutoring, English-language support and legal advice to all international students.

There is no shortage of international demand for admission to Sheridan and our standards remain high.  Over the last three years, however, the percentage of international students at Sheridan has decreased from 35% to 32% across our three home communities. In Brampton specifically, the percentage of international learners has decreased by 5%. This was intentional and responsive to concerns from our city and municipal partners about social infrastructure. In that same time period, however, international enrolment across the city’s 65+ post-secondary providers – at private institutions and through private/public partnerships in particular -- has skyrocketed.

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Sheridan invests to address mental health, food insecurity, housing, immigration matters and gender-based violence (including sex trafficking). We employ five South Asian doctors in the student health centre, one who provides culturally-specific cognitive behavioural therapy and five nurses who identify as South Asian. All our services can be provided in multiple languages including Hindi, Punjabi and Gujrati and we ensure that all international students have comprehensive health insurance.

To complement these actions, we have also worked collaboratively and constructively with many community partners. As an example, we recently partnered with SOCH mental health to produce Punjabi and English resources because we know that many international students do not reach out for help due to shame and stigma. We believe there is an opportunity for Peel Region to lead social and policy innovation in this space – a view that is shared by our colleagues at Punjabi Community Health Services, Catholic Family Services Peel-Dufferin and Indus Community Services. This level of collaboration with community partners including PCHS and Indus is part of an ongoing partnership; we’ve worked closely together on a number of crucial initiatives, most recently the CommUNITY vaccine clinic

Certain things are foundational to learning including personal safety, food security, safe and affordable housing, and the senses of purpose and belonging. Recent tragedies and a spate of media coverage has brought this again to the forefront, but this has been a growing issue in Canada for some time. Sheridan has been advocating for years on the urgent need for government investment in student mental health. We are committed to doing whatever we can to provide support, prevent tragedy and put people on the track to thriving. More and better is always possible.

As a recent report issued by One Voice Canada suggests, larger scale reforms are needed. Specifically, Sheridan supports the call to improve the integrity of the international student program and the welfare of international students, through three specific actions:

  • Conduct a comprehensive evaluative study of the international student program, examining the period between 2014 and 2020.
  • Regulate and reduce tuition fees for international students.
  • Increase funding and training for specialized services within postsecondary international student offices.

Similarly – we support calls by the World Sikh Organization for the federal government to:

  • Crack down on employers and immigration consultants engaged in illegal and harmful practices.
  • Be aware and vigilant of exploitative practices and ensure other levels of government and partners are committed to a zero-tolerance policy.
  • Review and revise the criteria of federal permanent residency programs to reflect the current economic hardships.
  • Urge provincial governments and post-secondary institutions to address the significant and growing inequities in tuition fees.
  • Pressure the provincial ministries to enhance existing and develop tailored settlement supports.
  • Work diligently and quickly to address the backlog of visa applications.

Sheridan has long been a proud pillar in the communities of Peel and Halton. We’re eager to continue to play a leadership role and help those who need us the most.

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