International students don’t need to sweat over a D

International students at the University of Manitoba can now breathe a sign of relief, as they will no longer have their off-campus work permits revoked after receiving a D on their transcript.

Instead, students must now maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA in accordance with the “satisfactory academic standing” requirement of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada off-campus work permit program.

This was shifted from students losing their permits after receiving one D on their transcript this past September.

“All it would take would be a student having a bad mark in mathematics or English and then they can’t work off campus,” said University of Manitoba Students’ Union president, Sid Rashid.

“Now they have the ability to do so — just maintain a reasonable average. If one can’t maintain a 2.0 GPA one could ask if they should be working to begin with.”

Rashid went on to say that he is aware of many international students who work two or sometimes three jobs in order to pay off their increasing differential fees.

“A lot of students come here on a budget for 3-4 years [ . . . ] and when [differential fees] are increasing, and we’re not talking small fees, but from 180 to 250 per cent, that’s a big increase.

“They’re having to work to accommodate that increase and most of them work to begin with,” he said.

Rashid said that there is no doubt that working two or three jobs would affect a student’s studies.
UMSU had been working with the U of M International Centre for Students to lobby the provincial government and university administration for this change after hearing from many international students that their ability to work off-campus was very limited.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada mandates that students are limited to 20-hours of work per week under the off-campus work permit program guidelines.

According to Kelli Fraser, a spokesperson from Citizenship and Immigration, this is to ensure that the primary purpose of their stay in Canada is to study. Students who hold a permit are allowed to work full-time during scheduled breaks.

“Students may choose to work additional hours on campus since there is no limit to the number of hours a student may work on campus,” said Fraser.

“However, students are discouraged from working more than a maximum of 20 hours per week since they must be in full-time studies and maintain satisfactory academic standing in order to keep their off-campus work permit.”

Every educational institution participating in the off-campus work permit program is required to have a designated institutional representative responsible for implementing the program on their campus.

At the University of Manitoba, this is done through the International Centre for Students. Students interested in acquiring a permit must meet with the Off-Campus Work Permit coordinator to review the rules and requirements and confirm whether or not they would be eligible before applying. Students can apply online after meeting with the coordinator.

“Recently, students who meet the requirements for an OCWP have been receiving their permits in the mail within four weeks,” said Robyn Tully, communications coordinator at the International Centre for Students.

“For new international students in Canada, finding employment can sometimes pose a few challenges. The U of M has a variety of resources and programs to assist students looking for employment,” said Tully.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, in 2008 exactly 16,530 off-campus work permits were issued with approximately 40 per cent of entries going to those enrolled in public post-secondary institutions.