“We want you to feel at home. Secondly, we want you to stay. If you like Canada, and you like Mississauga, we would love you to stay with us,” said Mayor Hazel McCallion in the third annual International Student Welcome to Mississauga event in the Council Chamber.
The event was held last Friday at the Mississauga Civic Centre. According to Susan Arming, Mississauga’s director of economic development, around 80 students attended the event from 20 different countries around the world.
The event was hosted by McCallion, UTM principal Deep Saini, and Jeff Zabudsky, president and chief executive officer of Sheridan College.
The purpose of the event, besides welcoming the new international students, was to provide information about Mississauga and the services that are available to international students who live and learn in the city.
McCallion gave a speech in which she elaborated on how students represent the future of the countries to which they come. She also said she considers the students citizens of Mississauga, and expressed her desire for them to feel at home.
“We want you to take advantage of the services that we offer you and just feel that you are entitled to just as much as a student resident of Mississauga. We want you to know that you’re welcome here and we want to offer you every opportunity to participate in all the activities that are going on in the city of Mississauga,” she said.
Professor Deep Saini spoke as well. “Together, we are providing among the best quality education you’ll get anywhere in the world,” he said in reference to Sheridan College and the University of Toronto.
Saini also mentioned that UTM has alumni in 184 countries, leaving only about four or five countries without alumni. “Students become ambassadors for our institution, for our city, for our progress, and for our country,” he said.
Making reference to the welcome event, which was originally McCallion’s idea, Zabudsky asked the students to reach out and embrace the community, saying that the community will provide opportunities for the students.
Students later commented on how the event made them feel welcome, comfortable, and pleased with their decision of coming to Mississauga.
“It helped me because I didn’t know much about the city,” said Victor Teles, a first-year UTM student from Brazil. “And it was great because I got to meet many people from abroad.”
UTM also hosted its first International Students’ Welcome Week last month, coordinated by international student development officer Elvis Ibrahimovic, who served in the role from April to August.
A recent Toronto Star article reported that international students can pay “three to four times as much” in tuition as domestic students, and although universities receive less assistance from the government to educate an international student, they can more than recoup the difference through higher tuition. Last year, U of T also proposed a five-year plan to increase international arts and science students’ tuition by over 50%, according to an article in The Varsity.