Searching for a summer job just got a whole lot easier for Memorial University of Newfoundland’s international students.
New federal legislation announced yesterday by Monte Solberg, minister of Citizenship and Immigration, allows foreign students studying in Canada to apply for off-campus work permits effective immediately. Under the new rules, students can work full-time during the summer months and up to 20 hours during the school year.
That news is critical to helping attract and retain international students to post-secondary institutions such as Memorial University, said Sonja Knutson, international student programmer with the International Student Advising Office in St. John’s. She said after years of campaigning for the legislation, international students can now apply for off-campus jobs as early as this summer.
She said prior to yesterday’s announcement, foreign students, who are studying full-time, could only apply for on-campus position. They did not need a permit to work on-campus.
Ms. Knutson said Memorial’s international population is delighted by the announcement.
“Having the choice to work is important and certainly being able to work in the summer, like all other Canadian students will be helpful for student finances,” she said. “This news is critical to all aspects of attracting and retaining international students and helping them to choose to make Newfoundland their home after they graduate.”
Foreign students contribute roughly $4 billion a year to Canada’s economy. According to the federal government, there are about 100,000 foreign students in Canada who could be eligible for work permits under the Off-Campus Work Permit Program.
These students help enrich university life at post-secondary institutions, said Dr. Lilly Walker, Memorial’s dean of student affairs and services.
“Memorial has been enriched by the diversity of perspectives and knowledge our international students bring to our campuses,” she said. “This legislation change provides these students with the opportunity to share their talents and educational experience within our province.”
Memorial has about 900 international students.
Ottawa’s new changes came on the same day that Memorial’s Division of Student Affairs and Services welcomed Ben Yang, director of the International Student Centre at the University of Toronto, to its St. John’s campus. He applauded the federal government’s legislation and said it will allow international students to integrate themselves into the cities they’re studying in.
“It opens up more opportunities for them to gain more meaningful experience which was limited before,” he said. “And, it’ll be a bit of a financial relief.”
Dr. Walker said allowing international students to work off campus will help in Memorial’s recruitment efforts. The university’s Office of Student Recruitment is currently focused a number of countries throughout the world including China, India, Belize and the other countries.
“This program may allow some of these students to remain within our province, establish roots and become apart of our communities,” Dr. Walker said.