Home Student Engagement The Francophone Perspective

The Francophone Perspective

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As we have seen throughout this toolkit, successful student engagement requires a multi-dimensional, thoughtful approach. This approach needs to be equally nuanced with regards to supporting equity- deserving groups, such as Francophone students.

Francophone enrolment on campuses has increased in both Francophone and bilingual universities across Ontario. For example, I’Université de Hearst saw a 22% increase in enrolment from 2022 to 2023, while the University of Ottawa showed a 21% increase from 2018 to 2022. In 2021, 32 percent of the University of Ottawa’s students were French speakers. Many new Francophone students in Ontario are also international students. This growth of Francophone communities on campus requires us to also grow and strengthen the ways we connect with and engage with them. Here are some ways you can start.

Understand Their Reality

There is not one singular experience of reality for Francophone students. That said, bear in mind that they often must contend with barriers for being Francophone – for example, when trying to access government services under Ontario’s French Language Act or doing mundane activities like shopping. These barriers are often increased by intersecting identities.


  • OneBecome knowledgeable about what many Francophone students face as international students through the CICMH International Students Toolkit.
  • TwoUnderstand how you can bring an anti-oppressive framework into your work with students.
  • ThreeStay informed on the changing landscape for Francophone and international students through reputable news and academic sources.

Appreciate the Challenge of Asking for Services in French.

Many Francophone students who might otherwise want to engage with your campus’s services might not be comfortable doing so due to various fears. For example, they might fear they will not receive the services they have requested if they ask for them in French, or that they might not get the service in
a timely manner. Language is a social determinant of health as receiving health services in one’s own language is acknowledged as having various positive effects on the person seeking support.


  • OneBecome familiar with how to recognize, respond, and refer students experiencing mental health issues to these services through our More Feet on the Ground course to help engage with students.
  • TwoAfter taking the course, learn about what services are offered in French on your campus and in your community and how to best navigate each system.
  • ThreeWhen creating community connections with Francophone organizations, connect with organizations that support various equity-deserving groups so that you can easily refer students to these organizations.

By being able to expect what barriers Francophone students might face, the campus will be better equipped to know how to support them or where they can get support. When they feel more supported, they will be more likely to engage with their campus community.

Guide: PDF Version