by Chelan Skulski
UR International is a program at the University of Regina that could be affected by motions recommended at the university council meeting which took place on March 6.
During the first council meeting in two decades, a motion passed recommending hiring and salary increase freezes to administrative staff at the U of R. This motion could potentially affect the staff available for programs at the school, such as UR International.
As of fall 2011 there were 1,253 international students studying at the U of R, paying nearly three times as much as Canadian students to further their education. For international students, who make up 20 per cent of the student population, international programs are critical to their academic success.
UR International is a program at the U of R dedicated to recruiting, assisting, and retaining international students and professors. UR International is divided into three departments; Student Services and Study Abroad, International Relations and Partnerships and International Admissions and Recruitment. Twenty-one staff members are employed among the three departments.
International Admissions and Recruitment selects students to study at the U of R from countries around the world. Once students are accepted programs are available to orient them into the post secondary community.
“We provide all immigration services; so students wanting to renew their study permits, off campus work permits, VISAs, we do very personalized, hands on, services for students ... and of course our Global Learning Centre,” said Melissa Berwald, manager at student services and study abroad.
The Global Learning Centre, launched in 2010, has been a successful program for UR International. The centre provides one-on-one English learning conversation, group conversations, and a variety of workshops and classes. GLC also provides free tutorials to help international students succeed in English 100. The program is so popular that the GLC coaches are booked until April.
Arturo Segura came to the University of Regina as an ESL student from Mexico in 2007 and now works as an international relations and partnerships specialist. Segura understands how the program can make a big difference for international students.
“Right now we have 60 students here from Brazil and they arrive here in January you can imagine what they are going through right now. They came from tropical weather and they just came to minus 40. Of course we have kids that are homesick and cannot adapt but most of them now are doing fine,” Segura said.
Richard Vengroff, political science professor at Kennesaw State University, believes programs for immigrants at the community level are needed. Vengroff presented a lecture on the implementation of immigration policy in Canada and the United States at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy on March 6.
“The role of immigration policy is integration, whether you’re looking at economic issues, cultural issues, social issues or graphic issues, integration is key and central to all of those. Without integration people might come for jobs, great, but they might not stay,” he said.
“People don’t become integrated into Saskatchewan because of Ottawa, these are things that happen at the local level when they are interacting with real people.”
As the university attempts to balance budgets, international students will wait to see how their services, and academic futures, will be affected.