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U of T Among Universities Given Green Light To Welcome International Students

More foreign students enrolled at the University of Toronto will now be allowed to enter Canada after changes to the coronavirus travel restrictions that took effect recently.

The University of Toronto is among the Canadian universities on a list of designated learning institutions (DLI) that have been considered to have a rigorous coronavirus readiness plan in place for international students’ arrival.

The changes in study permit restrictions apply to all international students, regardless of where they are coming from or when their study permit was approved.

“International students are an important part of the U of T community and their presence greatly enhances the experience of all students and faculty,” said University of Toronto President Meric Gertler.

“We appreciate that all government levels have worked with institution to find a holistic solutions to bring in these international students into the country safely at this challenging time.”

While many students enrolled at the University of Toronto have already safely arrived in Canada, those who did not have a study permit issued before March 18, when border restrictions were put in place, have so far been forced to study from overseas. International students represent a quarter of the U of T student population.

Like all international travelers to Canada, every student traveling to campus from abroad will need to quarantine for fourteen (14) days. Each school on the federal government’s approved list was required to lodge their quarantine plans to their provincial government for approval.

The university has implemented a comprehensive plan to help international students safely enter the country and quarantine once they arrive here.

That includes assisting students to develop a quarantine plan, picking students up at the airport, and providing accommodation to quarantine on campus or at downtown hotels, where international students receive meals and daily check-ins from health staff. Students will also be tested for COVID-19 symptoms in accordance with health guidelines.

There are even welcome kits stocked with such items as detergents, snacks, fabric, face masks, and digital thermometers.

“The university’s quarantine plan has been characterized by some as the quality standard and I think it really is,” said Joseph Wong, U of Toronto’s vice-president, international. “So much meticulous details has gone into the planning for the arrival of students – everything from what goes into their welcome basket to ensuring safe transportation from the airports.”

Wong added that even while in quarantine, foreign students are invited to take part in virtual curricular and co-curricular activities so they feel integrated into the campus community.

“It really is quite an astounding feat. And, of course, all of this is free of charge, which again is a reflection of the university’s commitment to its international students.”

Shashwat Aggarwal, a third-year Trinity College economics student from the New Delhi area was among those who returned to the University in mid-August.

He welcomed the government’s changes to study permit regulation and said being back in school, closer to colleagues in school and professors, made it easier to pursue his studies. “Asynchronous classes can be really helpful for students in other time zones, but with office hours and other activities you have to attend synchronously it gets can be tough,” he said.

By contrast, Aggarwal said he found it challenging to strike a work-life balance when he was studying from back home in India earlier this year.

In addition, he said being back at the U of T has allowed him to take up his role as a student college head and assist in organizing online events to help enrich other students’ experience.

As for the quarantine process, Shashwat Aggarwal said he felt supported at every step.

“They thought of everything on how to keep foreign students comfortable and providing us with a supply kits, and daily check-ins from health and wellness personels,” he said.