By JAKE DAVIDSON
Students from all over the world come to Conestoga College to study.
“The students who come to learn at the college choose to do so here because the school has an excellent reputation,” said Brianne Kostal, international student services officer at Conestoga.
As of September 2011, there were approximately 460 international students at the college with 35 per cent of them coming from India, 29 per cent from China, six per cent from Nigeria, five per cent from South Korea, four per cent from Russia and the remainder from other countries.
No one program is the most popular but applied health, human resource management, various engineering programs, computer applications and English language studies are the most commonly selected.
International students are required to meet the same standards as any Canadian student when entering the college, though they must also demonstrate a certain level of English language knowledge. I.E.L.T.S., (International English Language Testing System) awards three lucky students at Conestoga with $3,000 if they’re applying for a full-time program. To get the money they must meet a certain level of English skill by taking a test.
Most students who go onto secondary programs have a high level of English knowledge. But for those who don’t there is an English studies program in place to help. Translators are also offered for assistance with banking and other day-to-day activities.
According to Kostal many students find work in Canada and obtain an open work permit.
The college applications come in multiple languages in case a student has trouble with English. Students can arrange to stay with a Canadian family close to the school and the office helps with off-campus housing. The family that is picked is chosen based on where the student wants to live combined with the lifestyle of both parties. The families are all listed in a database.
Once a suitable match is found the parties involved exchange information and are advised to get in touch with each other so they can learn more about the other.
According to Tricia Gooding, international support services officer at the college, the number of international students living in residence or staying with local families is evenly split. Those who stay with families may choose to do so because of the cost of living in residence, or the safety they may feel from being with a family.
The International Students Office provides monthly activities for the students to get together as a group to help them meet other people. They also assist the students if they need a co-op work permit or need to change programs.
The international students office wants everyone to be successful and to get the help they need.