Welcome to the 2023-24 academic year! Each September, York has the privilege of welcoming new international students to the University and to Canada. This is something we don’t take lightly. We know that your journey to Canada began well before your plane, train or car ride to Toronto. We admire and appreciate the years of hard work that you, your family, and loved ones have all put in to get you here, to university, to Canada, to York.
York has over 10,000 international students from over 178 different countries enrolled across two campuses and eleven Faculties. International students bring incredible experience, perspective, talent, and skill to York and to Canada. Our community is better for this diversity of experiences, languages, cultures, and viewpoints. At the same time, we know that the challenges international students face can be difficult and different from those of our local students. Additional pressures, bureaucracy, and adjustment to culture are just a few of the challenges that international students face, and that we have seen so many of you overcome.
You have likely heard in the news, and perhaps even experienced yourself, that Canada is currently facing a housing crisis. It is truly unfortunate that comments have pointed at international students as a potential cause of this crisis. In reality, we know that international students have been significantly impacted and the post-secondary sector and governments must do more. Housing is a complex issue that has neither one source nor one solution. As we continue to strive to do even better as a university, we each have an individual responsibility to examine issues critically and not jump to attribute blame to one source.
York is trying to do our part and we commit to continuing our efforts to ensure adequate and affordable housing is available for all students, including international students. Currently, we offer a first-year residence guarantee for students within Canada or Internationally. The University also partners with a private student housing developer to build The Quad residences, adding just over 1500 beds to on-campus housing. Additional phases of The Quad are also underway, which will continue to add to the number of on-campus housing available to students.
International students are an important part of our York community. York recently launched Engaging the World: York’s Internationalization and Global Engagement Strategy of which a core pillar is Enhance the International Student Experience. York is committed to this in all aspects. Supports for international students exist all over the University including at York International. YI is a central hub for international students: we offer immigration advising, UHIP (health insurance), international student orientation, social events, workshops on academic supports and skills, career supports, and more. We work closely with University partners like Academic Advising, the Career Centre, the Learning Commons, Faculties, Student Counselling, Health and Well-being, Student Accessibility Services, Residence Life, and others who support students and want to provide an excellent experience for international students. A large university like York can be daunting to navigate – if you’re an international student and you’re not sure where to go for help, you can start with York International and we’ll help you get to the right place.
We know how important international students are in our community and how much strength and value they bring to York and to Canada. As a member of Universities Canada, York will also continue to advocate with provincial and federal governments to improve supports, resources, and processes that impact international students.
Many newcomers to Canada and Canadians who have immigrated to this country know choosing a new life in a new country is a path that can be incredibly challenging, but equally rewarding. As a university that recruits international students to Canada, we must recognize our responsibility in international education. In alignment with York’s values, we commit to bringing international students into Canada in an ethical, sustainable, responsible, and inclusive way. Our goal is to support international students achieve success, in whatever way they define it, whichever path they choose. When international students succeed, it is a win for everyone at York and in Canada.
York’s strength is in its diversity and community support that are core to what York stands for. I call on our community to continue to uphold York’s values of being an open, inclusive, and welcoming community with empathy, care, and compassion for those with different lived experiences, perspectives, and identities than our own.
Finally, to our international students – you belong here, you bring so much to our community, and we’re so glad you’ve chosen us.
Welcome to York.
Assistant Vice-President, Global Engagement and Partnerships
On behalf of the team at York International