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Recruitment and Pre-Arrival

A significant issue affecting international students in Canada is the existence of independent international college recruiters who earn commissions by registering students to attend various Canadian post-secondary institutions. According to public records, Ontario’s public colleges paid more than $114 million in commission to recruiters in 2020-21, according to the 2021 auditor general report, a total that excludes the amount paid by private colleges. A CBC investigation found that some freelance recruiters are incentivized to push international students to enroll in private colleges, where their commissions are often higher. However, these private institutions can be ill-prepared to fully support the needs of the large number of international students that are recruited to attend. Some of the misleading claims that external recruiters make when recruiting international students include the ease of financing their education, their ability to gain permanent residence following their studies as well as misrepresenting how quickly international students can find permanent work in their chosen fields.

Post-secondary institutions have had to respond to these issues, including expanding their own inhouse recruitment departments and shrinking the number of external recruitment agents that they work with, to ensure that they are properly trained and credentialed. Many post-secondary institutions have also been proactive in making connections with students and their families prior to their arrival in Canada. It is imperative that post-secondary institutions develop pre-arrival orientation programs to ensure that international students and their families are well-informed on what students can expect during their time in Canada. By providing all this information upfront and connecting students to essential resources, post-secondary institutions can support student success right from the moment of admission and have a better understanding of the cohort and what needs they may have.

  • Fleming College offers virtual and in-person Connect and Get Ready sessions, where students can connect with peers from the same program, meet the International Student Services staff, and attend themed sessions aimed at preparing them to come to Canada and get ready for their studies. Example sessions include topics on housing, immigration, counselling, and health insurance, among others.
  • Fleming College also offered a Global Friends Café pilot program in 2022, which ran one month prior to students arriving in Canada. The program connected current Fleming students to future Fleming students abroad in order to form a bond based on common interests and cultural curiosity. The program promoted acceptance of diversity, better integration of international students, and opportunities for true connection and friendship.
  • University of Waterloo has developed an online resource that provides preparatory information to students prior to their arrival. This guide includes information on preparing to travel, registering for orientation, programs and services, immigration consulting, filing taxes in Canada, transportation, technology, applying for a social insurance number, and so much more.
  • Sheridan College has recently begun sending senior staff to countries that send a large pool of students. Often, they are joined by upper-year students attending the college from that country. Making these in-person links can allow families to learn more about the campus community and allow leadership to dispel some of the misconceptions that students and their families may have regarding their Canadian educational journey. A full list of topics covered in these sessions is found here.
  • Lambton College has mandated virtual modules that educate international students on all the documents they will need to have in place prior to their arrival in the country. Topics are wide-ranging and encompass the process of getting their student visa, navigating border services, how to succeed academically, how to build a social network, and how to navigate the post-graduate job market.
  • Colleges Ontario in March 2023 published the Ontario public colleges’ Standards of Practice for International Education, which sets out a common set of minimum standards for international student activity.
Guide: PDF Version