Support for international students a focus for TSoM

Arriving in Canada to start a new life as a student can be scary, with so many unknowns, such as where to live, how to find a part-time job or even where to socialize outside of school. That’s what makes on-campus mentorship programs so important and why schools such as the Toronto School of Management (TSoM) emphasize building strong relationships with new students.

Melanie Buni attended TSoM between March 2018 and August 2020 as a Business Management student and says the school’s student services department helped answer many questions for her about Canadian culture and day-to-day concerns as she was adjusting to student life.

“Student services is a great department where I was able to get more information about Toronto and life in Canada,” says Buni, who had previously studied international business in Mexico before coming to Canada. She currently works for a branding company, assisting in the marketing department. She says the on-going relationship she has with TSoM has been helpful in getting established in Canada.

“Receiving mentorship from TSoM has made me successful. My professors taught me to ask lots of questions and I quickly gained the confidence to put myself out there to potential employers,” says Buni. “The school definitely helps with the hiring process and preparing for interviews. The teachers are always willing to help you improve.”

In addition to providing help with creating a résumé and a LinkedIn page, the school gave Buni additional career support when she needed it.

“I currently receive mentorship from our academic director, Yevgeniy Demchuk. When I fell on hard times during my career, he helped me make the best of my situation and advised me. The doors of TSoM’s Career Services department are always open to students and alumni,” Buni says.

Even after they graduate, students become part of the school’s alumni program which provides career services and a mentoring program. Having an on-going relationship with a school can be so important for newcomers to Canada.

“The friendly environment, the location and great teachers made my time successful at TSoM,” she says.

International students like Buni, who are hoping to study in Canada this fall for the first time may think their plans have to be put on hold, but that’s not the case, says licensed immigration consultant Ala Moayeri, emphasizing now is the time to apply to be able to start studying from home.

“They cannot get into the country at the moment, but they have this opportunity to study online. Once the borders are hopefully open for January intake, they will get in,” says Moayeri, who advises students with the Toronto School of Management and other Canadian schools on immigration matters. The immigration service Moayeri provides to TSoM students is another example of how the school provides assistance to students abroad who are looking to study in Canada. He notes that applications from students abroad are starting to increase as they consider the safest place to learn amid the backdrop of the global pandemic.

In the first stage of the two-stage approval process, students are not required to submit a biometric, proof of medical exam, or a police background check. They must also submit a letter of acceptance from a Canadian school, proof of funds and proof of ties to their home country.

Upon approval of their preliminary eligibility assessment, students will receive a confirmation letter from the Canadian government which is considered approval in principle. With this approval in hand, a student may begin studying online.

For the second stage of approval, all eligibility requirements will be required including submitting a biometric and necessary documents such as an immigration medical exam and a police check certificate.

“The number of applications is increasing because they all want to come to Canada because Canada is a safe place,” says Moayeri.

The Canadian government has indicated that students can begin their courses online from their home country, which Moayeri explains provides a good starting point to eventually come to Canada once the borders open.

“There are three advantages of studying online in your home country,” he says. “You’re living in your home country and not paying living expenses; the time you’re in your home country counts toward your post-graduate work permit, and you also increase your chances of getting your study permit as you are proving to immigration that you are a genuine and bonafide student.”

Currently, only students who received study visas or student permits before March 18, 2020, can arrive in Canada with the approval of the Canada Border Services Agency. All other students must start by studying online. The student must obtain a supportive letter from the educational institution that the courses offered are blended and necessary for them to be inside Canada.

Moayeri, who conducts webinars on immigration for prospective TSoM students, points out that the Canadian government is actively trying to support each stakeholder in the international education sector. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is providing this opportunity to international students to start their program online so they don’t lose time waiting for the borders to open.

Moayeri says among the most common questions he gets from new students are those about how much money they should have to show in their bank account to be accepted, and when to apply to be accepted in a program for a specific semester.