Sunday, April 21, 2024

Two-day summit at Sheridan College paves the way for better international student support

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Over the past two days, over 200 leaders from postsecondary institutions, community agencies and all levels of government gathered at Sheridan College’s Davis Campus in Brampton, Ontario, to examine the systemic barriers facing international students, and begin laying the foundation for change.

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Co-hosted by Sheridan and the City of Brampton on July 25-26, the summit allowed attendees to reconnect in person, engage in meaningful dialogue, and share best practices from national and international jurisdictions. The event welcomed 48 panelists from across Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, who shared their expertise and lived experiences over ten main panel discussions and an additional  six concurrent workshops. Panelists included members of the federal, provincial, and municipal government; academic researchers and postsecondary administrators, community agency leaders, student leaders, and more.

Key discussion points included:

  • the lived experiences of international students at different stages of their journeys;
  • the role that all levels of government must play in enhancing learner supports;
  • the importance of establishing strong holistic supports for health and wellness, financial wellbeing, academic success, and quality work experience;
  • establishing measures of accountability; and
  • the role of media and student advocacy in shifting the international student narrative.

 

In their opening panel, a group of seven international students from India, Ukraine, Trinidad and Hong Kong who study at or attended Sheridan, Humber and York University offered a compelling perspective on the particular challenges that some international students face, such as achieving financial stability while working limited hours, finding appropriate housing, and navigating a profound culture change while trying to focus on their academics.

 

Sheridan president with international student panelists
Sheridan President Dr. Janet Morrison (centre right) poses with the Summit’s international student panelists

Throughout the summit, panelists reiterated the importance of a connected, data-informed structure of supports; the need to work directly in partnership with international students and community agencies, and most of all – the critical role of collaboration between all levels of government, community stakeholders, and postsecondary institutions in developing impactful solutions that address the full spectrum of student well-being. The detailed agenda for the summit and biographies of all participants can be found on the summit webpage. Links to the recorded sessions are also available on the summit webpage.  

Sheridan will capture the key recommendations that emerged from the main panel discussions, workshops, and lunchtime conversation tables, and distill them into the foundation for the proposed Brampton International Student Charter. The Charter will support international student success and will include shared principles and common language, plans for action, and a mechanism for accountability.  Plans are in place to share a draft of the charter with the broader community later this fall.

The summit is a key deliverable of the International Student Experience Roundtable that was convened in 2021 by the City of Brampton and Sheridan to develop an integrated strategy that aims to make Brampton the best practice leader in Canada in supporting international students to thrive.

The Summit was generously supported by guard.me International Insurance and sponsored by Centennial College, St. Clair College and Nadya Wen.

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