A recent global survey of international students placed Sheridan College above any other college or university in Canada for international student satisfaction.
Conducted by International Graduate Insight Group, 93.3 per cent of Sheridan’s international students said they were satisfied based on factors like learning, living, and support.
The results are positive news following an explosive rise in the number of Sheridan students coming from places like India and China.
“We’ve had a 600 per cent growth in [international] enrollment in the last five years,” International Studies director Andrew Ness told YourMississaugaBiz.com.
In the highly competitive market for luring international students, who typically pay twice the tuition of domestic students, satisfaction surveys can be used by Sheridan as a marketing tool to entice students from abroad to attend and foreign schools to partner with the college.
Local officials also benefit from the increased foreign interest in area schools like Sheridan and UTM who hope that graduates remain in the region to fill skilled jobs or create new businesses with their newly acquired skills.
With such a marked increase in international enrolment, Ness and his team of 18 international services staff at Sheridan’s three campuses have executed a number of initiatives.
One initiative includes transition assistance for international students even before they come to Canada. “We took a team to the Punjab last summer and conducted pre-departure orientation for approximately 300 students,” Ness said, citing Indian students making up more than 70 per cent of Sheridan’s international population.
At the events, Indian Sheridan students underwent a series of workshops covering everything from teaching and learning to hearing their concerns. “I really think that made a big difference in managing their perception and fears even before they landed in the country,” Ness said.
The program was so successful that Sheridan plans on repeating the event again this year and adding another Indian city. Ness and his team also plan on conducting extended post-arrival orientations for students in the faculties of science and technology and “soft welcomes” two weeks prior to the start of class.
Like many other colleges and universities, Sheridan has separate marketing, recruitment and services divisions for its international students. It also offers English-tutoring services and cultural events to help with integration and isolation.
However, Ness said the college also put much of its effort and resources on working with other existing departments to improve services. “Really what we’re doing is sitting back and saying, how do we make sure from a collaborative perspective, how to link into other resources without just adding to us?” he said. “It’s really sensitizing the campus to some of the things that can happen.”
In the survey conducted by the International Graduate Insight Group, Sheridan beat out the 25 other Canadian colleges and universities that participated. Sheridan also placed sixth overall among the total number of 188 institutions, spread across 15 countries.
The college also earned the high marks in Canada for the categories of host friends, IT support, health services, catering, language support and orientation.
International students are a growing population among academic institutions in the Greater Toronto Area, with current estimates at 20,000. Last term Sheridan College has 2,900 international students across its three campuses in Oakville, Brampton and Mississauga. India represented the largest country of origin for those students, followed by China.