International Students Face Challenges Meeting Technological Requirements for School
Jasmine Gill is an International Journalism Student. When the government allowed International Students who worked in essential services to work more than twenty hours a week until August 31, she took advantage. Like all International Students, she must study full time to have a work permit. For four months in the summer, she worked 40 hours a week. This translated to struggling with her assignments. She lacked time and a place to complete them and has no money to buy a laptop that supports industry standard software.
A “cheap” laptop that can run the programs she needs to meet her school requirements costs around $1,800 CAD. That’s what she earns in a month on minimum wage. Jasmine is from India, and although her family can help her out, the currency in her country is very devalued. The average semester tuition for an International Student is $8,000 CAD which converted is almost $450,000 rupees (India’s currency). Just to give you an idea, the monthly rent for a decent apartment in Delhi is $400 CAD or a little more than $22,000 rupees.
Needing the money, Jasmine opted to do her assignments at work in her mobile phone. She decided it was more important to cut stress and be able to sleep while also handing in assignments. She got lower marks for not meeting the College’s requirements, but didn’t mind. “No professor has ever given me bad marks on like, quality, or my editing… I do it on the phone and it works pretty much the same as AVID to be honest… 80% like AVID, so I wouldn’t spend money on a laptop to be honest.”
Johanna Hernandez, another International Journalism Student, has a different approach. She worked 46 hours a week during the summer while completing a full-time course load. She believes it’s important to make an effort to use industry standard software, that’s why she did her assignments at home on her laptop. But her assignment time ate into her sleeping schedule. When asked how she will manage next semester she says “I’m going to do the same thing that I did in summer… work, make my assignments, at the same time that I’m working go to class and try to sleep four to five to six hours. Try to do the best”.
Contrary to Jasmine, Johanna owns a laptop that can run most of the industry standard software required by her school because she used to work in the film industry back in Colombia. The only program her laptop can’t run is AVID. The holy grail of editing programs, it requires a lot of RAM and an excellent graphics card. Jasmine borrowed one of the loaner laptops her school provides to run this program last semester. But besides there being a limited amount of laptops, like Johanna’s laptop, they can’t run AVID.
OUSA, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, has readily available links to help domestic students financially with this situation. For International Students, it’s more complicated. The links provided for them are few and confusing. When thoroughly read, the only information they provide is for emergency relief programs, not financial aid for a (luxury) $2,000 laptop. Furthermore, when contacted through phone, OUSA said they would answer International Student queries through email. We’re still waiting for a response.
COVID-19 makes this situation understandable. But the Canadian government is neglecting one of its greatest sources of income. Paying almost four times more than domestic students, international students contributed more than $21 billion to the Canadian economy in 2019. Right now, thousands of international students are postponing or cancelling their education in Canada due to the pandemic. This will have a huge impact on the economy. Considering the struggles International Students are currently going through, making it easier on them would be a simple way to ensure this enormous revenue.