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U of T is among the 27 Ontario institutions approved to permit international students to return
Lorenzo Canneri, News Editor
The government of Canada has amended travel restrictions, allowing some international students attending select institutions to re-enter the country as of Tuesday, October 20th. The new regulations will help international students who did not have a study permit issued before March 18th. The new study permit restrictions will apply to all students, regardless of their country of origin, and only universities that have been specified as a designated learning institution (DLI) may allow international students to return to campus.
“Provincial and territorial partners indicated they would like to see a process that allows international students to begin travelling to Canada again, as long as it is done safely and respects health requirements,” announced the Canadian government.
The University of Toronto (U of T), alongside 27 other Ontario institutions, are DLI’s. In order for universities to be able to receive the designation, they must satisfy a number of requirements set by the government. All institutions must present a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by their province. These plans must show that the institutions are protecting the health and safety of all students, provide the proper information and support for incoming international students, and give a comprehensive guide on how they will manage the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for international students.
U of T has committed to picking up all international students at the airport and delivering them straight to their accommodations in order to minimize any risks associated with the virus. The university is also providing returning students with virtual activities they can participate in to stay active during their quarantine. Piya Sial, a fourth year student at Trinity College, gave high praises to the university for her treatment. “I don’t think they could have done anything more,” said Sial. U of T News reported that, as of late October, hundreds of students have been able to return to campus. However, many more are expected to re-enter, as international students make up around a quarter of U of T’s population.
“International students are an integral part of the University of Toronto community, and their presence greatly enhances the experience of all students and faculty,” said U of T President Meric Gertler.
The new regulations also extend to family members of international students. Any immediate family members can accompany a student to Canada if their reason for travel is non-optional or non-discretionary. Such reasons would be if the family member is a spouse or common-law partner, or if they are acting as a parent or legal guardian of the student.
Some international students have expressed the difficulties of studying remotely while living in different countries or timezones. Shashwat Aggarwal, a third year Trinity College student who recently re-entered Canada, has said that the move back to Toronto has made studying easier. “Asynchronous classes can be helpful for people in other time zones, but with office hours and tutorials, you have to attend synchronously. It can get tough,” said Aggarwal.
For international students looking for further information, they can visit canada.ca under immigration and citizenship, where the government has set up a page to specifically address any concerns regarding scholars returning to Canada.