The International Education Centre is in the process of hiring additional staff, offering new programs, and moving to a new office space in order to better accommodate student needs.
The IEC is growing to five staff from its current two, according to international student development officer Stacey Platt.
Two full-time staff have already been hired and the centre is in the process of hiring a third.
“We’ve been restrained by the number of people we’ve had [on staff],” said Platt, noting that up until 2012, the IEC was a one-person office.
She also mentioned that the centre is expecting to move into a new office space by the middle of this month. Platt and Joanna Mackie, another ISDO, said they were unable to speak in depth about some of the changes because not all of the details have been finalized yet.
Other changes include the launch of a year-long voluntary transition program called Global Connections.
The program, which launches in two weeks, is intended to bring international and domestic students together and to be a platform for language exchange, cultural interaction, and more connections to communities on and off campus. Platt is coordinating the program along with a staff of nine students in work-study positions.
Earlier this year, the IEC hosted UTM’s first International Welcome Week to help incoming international students transition into university life in Mississauga. Held during the last week of August, the week was a pilot project that was organized by Elvis Ibrahimovic, who was then serving as an ISDO, along with a team of student volunteers.
One of the volunteers, Larissa Ho, served on the planning committee and was a team leader for the event.
“I like to think of it as securing an anchor for [the international students], so they weren’t floating around aimlessly throughout their time at UTM,” she said.
The week’s events included lunches, info sessions on university expectations, meetings with faculty, a bus tour of Mississauga, and trips to the CNE and Niagara Falls.
The orientation also provided participants the opportunity to live on residence for a week—and for those who planned to remain on residence for the year, a chance to move in early.
Platt said that 42 students participated in the pilot week.
“I think the aftermath of the week is what tells me that it was a successful week—the students who met each other during IWW are still friends and they know where to find help when they need it,” said Ho.
Platt mentioned that changes intended for next year’s IWW include better accommodation of upper-year foreign exchange students and the introduction of information sessions for the students’ families.
Platt and Mackie noted that the IEC does not just serve international students, i.e. those holding a study permit. It also serves Canadian citizens who have not previously lived in Canada. The centre also offers help to domestic students, for example those hoping to study abroad.