Times Colonist

Uni­ver­si­ties pre­pare for re­turn of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents

- ROX­ANNE EGAN-EL­LIOTT Times Colonist re­gan-el­liott@times­colonist.com Society · Online Courses · Education · College · e-Learning · Higher Education · Vancouver · Vancouver Island · Vancouver Island · Vancouver Island University · The University of Victoria · Greater Victoria · Camosun College

With three weeks to go be­fore the start of the school year, post-sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions on the Is­land are pre­par­ing for the re­turn of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents who will need to quar­an­tine.

Col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties plan to of­fer mostly on­line cour­ses, but there will be some face-to­face classes, and each school is deal­ing with the chal­lenges dif­fer­ently. Van­cou­ver Is­land Uni­ver­sity, for ex­am­ple, will re­quire stu­dents re­turn­ing from abroad to quar­an­tine in des­ig­nated res­i­dence rooms, while the Uni­ver­sity of Vic­to­ria ex­pects stu­dents to quar­an­tine off cam­pus.

More than 3,000 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents are reg­is­tered for the up­com­ing school year at UVic, a num­ber sim­i­lar to last year. But that does not in­di­cate how many will be trav­el­ling to Greater Vic­to­ria from abroad to study, as some may study on­line and oth­ers might have stayed in Canada through the pan­demic.

Forty-three in­ter­na­tional stu­dents have re­served spa­ces in on-cam­pus res­i­dences, and the uni­ver­sity is in the process of con­nect­ing with them to de­ter­mine where they’re com­ing from and whether they’ll need to quar­an­tine, said Rose-Marie Roxburgh, as­so­ci­ate direc­tor of busi­ness op­er­a­tions in Res­i­dence Ser­vices.

No one will be al­lowed to quar­an­tine in res­i­dence, she said.

Roxburgh said the uni­ver­sity has been in touch with stu­dents to make sure they are aware of the quar­an­tine pe­riod, which needs to be com­pleted prior to move-in day on Sept. 6.

“And I’ve been work­ing with In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent Ser­vices, to ar­range for op­tions like ho­tels,” she said.

The num­ber of avail­able res­i­dence beds has been re­duced from around 2,300 to 800 this year, and no one will be shar­ing a room to re­duce the risk of spread­ing COVID-19. Res­i­dence spa­ces are avail­able to all stu­dents, re­gard­less of whether they’ll be learn­ing in class­rooms or on­line.

At Van­cou­ver Is­land Uni­ver­sity, any stu­dent com­ing from abroad to study in a pro­gram that in­volves in-per­son learn­ing is re­quired to quar­an­tine in res­i­dence, whether or not they in­tend to live on cam­pus.

“Our No. 1 priority is supporting our stu­dents and keep­ing our com­mu­nity safe and we have a ro­bust plan in place that fol­lows the most cur­rent guide­lines,” said Ian John­srude, VIU’s man­ager of stu­dent hous­ing.

The uni­ver­sity has ded­i­cated 20 res­i­dence spa­ces for stu­dents in quar­an­tine, and seven beds have been booked, John­srude said.

In­di­vid­u­als will re­ceive three meals a day de­liv­ered to their door and have their own bath­room.

The quar­an­tine pro­gram costs be­tween $50 to $60 a night.

John­srude said many in­ter­na­tional stu­dents are in on­line pro­grams that do not re­quire them to travel to Canada, and some were al­ready in the coun­try be­fore the pan­demic be­gan and stayed.

That’s the case for the vast ma­jor­ity of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents at Camo­sun Col­lege, said Ge­off Wilmshurst, who is re­spon­si­ble for non-gov­ern­ment funded pro­grams at the col­lege, like in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion.

Of about 1,300 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents en­rolled in the fall, only around 50 peo­ple — who al­ready had study per­mits — are com­ing from abroad, and there will be vir­tu­ally no in­ter­na­tional first-year stu­dents on cam­pus, be­cause they weren’t able to get study per­mits, Wilmshurst said.

Camo­sun staff have iden­ti­fied ho­tels for stu­dents who need to quar­an­tine, and will pro­vide a hamper filled with food and es­sen­tial toi­letries to help them get through the two-week pe­riod. Staff will be check­ing in with stu­dents pe­ri­od­i­cally dur­ing the quar­an­tine pe­riod, Wilmshurst said.

“We’re feel­ing that we put ev­ery­thing in place that we know we’re re­quired to put in place to have a safe start to the school year,” he said.

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