By Edward Djan
International students at Ryerson University are now able to travel to Canada after the federal government added the university to its designated learning institution (DLI) list.
Designated learning institutions (DLI) are post-secondary institutions that have been approved by the federal government to bring international students into Canada. International students can only apply for study permits in Canada at DLIs.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government overhauled the program and required post-secondary institutions to submit a COVID-19 readiness plan to the government proving they can safely operate during the pandemic.
In an email to The Eyeopener, Ryerson communications stated that the university had been working with officials to receive approval, but did not specify when the school submitted their plan to the federal government.
“Ryerson worked closely with our government partners in submitting and receiving feedback on our plan,” the email reads. “While we were not among the first schools to have our plan approved, we did receive our approval within weeks.”
Third-year industrial engineering student Sohaib Hassan said the delay in approval gave him anxiety and confused him when he was applying to internships.
“I’m looking for an internship next year. Not having the [DLI] status was a bit concerning—it was stressful,” Hassan said. “I wondered, ‘Wait, do I have to be in Canada to apply for a work permit for internships?”
Hassan plans to come to Toronto for the winter 2021 semester after struggling to study in Pakistan.
“I thought I would give [studying in Pakistan] a try and see if it would work from here but due to the time difference, now I’m travelling back,” said Hassan. “It was too self-isolating; it’s mentally hard, especially as an international student when no one is around.”
In an emailed response to The Eye, second-year biomedical student Huy Khoi Nguyen, who is currently in Vietnam, said there are some benefits to studying abroad.
“I don’t really have to go back and pay for rent and food monthly which are great savings for me.”
Despite not finding the appeal in virtual learning, Nguyen is thankful for the financial support Ryerson gave students during the beginning of the pandemic back in April.
“I was very worried that I wouldn’t have enough money to survive through this summer, plus I couldn’t get a job to earn money due to low demand,” said Nguyen. “Luckily, Ryerson released [its student relief fund] right after I only had $200 in my bank account. It really saved me during the pandemic and I really appreciate that kind of help from our school.”
The university provided students financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with a one-time payment of $750 through the Ryerson student relief fund. However, Nguyen said the cost of tuition is still high given the changes to delivery.
“I feel like I pay tons of money just to sit at home and study virtually,” Nguyen said.
Unlike Hassan, Nguyen will not travel to Toronto even despite Ryerson becoming a now-designated learning institution.
“Vietnam has done a great job in controlling this pandemic. I feel like I would be more safe staying in my hometown until Canada gets over this pandemic,” said Nguyen.
International students who plan on travelling to Toronto must complete an online form detailing their arrival plans including where they plan to self-isolate for two weeks after landing, according to the university’s student affairs website.
Post-secondary institutions who are on the DLI list are required to help international students if they are unable to find a place to self-isolate for two-weeks, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
At Ryerson, students can contact international student support for help finding accommodation and for transportation needs from the airport to their residence where they plan to self-isolate for two weeks.
With files from Minh Truong