October 24, 2020

Conestoga’s new campus has opened its doors and some students feel like they “are in a very luxurious college in India.”

The downtown campus, located inside Market Square, is initially holding business programs and it has around 800 registered students, who are all international.

“The thing is: we don’t feel like we ever left India,” Global Business Management student Shakti Badgujar, 24, said in an interview with Spoke. “It just feels like we are in a very luxurious college in India.”

According to Associate Vice-President of Student Affairs Trish Weigel-Green, more than 90 per cent of the students are originally from India, and the remainder comes from eight other countries, including Nigeria, Brazil and Sri Lanka.

Many new students are not happy about the lack of mixing with domestic students.

“The facilities provided are really good,” said Strategic Global Business Management student Rahul Dave, 22. “However, I am quite disappointed about this campus because most (of the students) are Indian. I thought I was going to get to know more cultures, more Canadians, and more people from other countries.”

Shubham Kamble, 24, a Global Business Management student, feels the same way.

“I came here to explore new cultures and meet new people,” he said. “But I am paying around $16,000 per year for a Business Management Program, and I am not meeting anyone new, and that is why I am quite disappointed.”

Green said they have built this campus thinking of growth. Therefore, they plan on bringing in 100 more students to the downtown campus, beginning in February, and those will likely be Canadian students.

“We built the student spaces to accommodate up to 3,000 students, so you could say it is overbuilt to plan for future growth,” she added.

Another complaint coming from students stems from a lack of opportunities to get involved in the college.

Badgujar used to be one of his college’s ambassadors in India, and he would love to be involved at Conestoga just like he used to be back home. However, he has not heard of any opportunities like that so far.

According to Thomas Campbell, who is a Student Engagement Programmer, Student Engagement “will be recruiting volunteers in February after students have had the opportunity to experience what it is like to be a Conestoga student, and they will also be hiring a part-time student during the summer semester.”

On the other hand, Scot Wyles, the Conestoga Students Inc. president, said they are still “getting used to the space” and in the future they “will be planning some events at the campus,” even though he did not specify when events might start or which events he had in mind.

Wyles also said they have not had “much involvement on the campus,” so they are unsure if they will offer any volunteer or job opportunities there. He did not respond to questions about whether there are plans to have a downtown shuttle service to the main campus anytime soon.

For Badgujar, the solution is clear.

“I would like to take some courses in the Doon campus so that I can interact with more people from other countries and cultures … We could also benefit from using Doon’s major facilities, such as the recreation center and CSI lounges,” he added.

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