The pandemic exposed the vulnerability of international students in Canada
January 24, 2022 1.25pm EST
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, students in Canadian universities and colleges faced many challenges. Classes moved online, students were asked to leave campus residences and many students lost jobs or faced reduced work hours.
While some domestic students could return home, many international students could not go back to their home countries, either because of the cost or because of border restrictions.
Roommates in shared dwellings struggled to adhere to proper social distancing measures. Media reports suggested the pandemic had made international students more vulnerable to adverse events and had posed unique challenges for them.
In fall 2020, we decided to ask international students how they were faring, using a survey and in-depth interviews. We hoped that a better understanding of the challenges they encountered could inform an effective policy response. What the students told us revealed intense psychological, academic and financial vulnerabilities, often occurring in conjunction with one another.