Windsor ranks 38 out of 50 best Canadian cities for international students

Sriram Velaga, an international student at the University of Windsor, said he chose the school based on the companies set up in the city.  (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
Sriram Velaga, an international student at the University of Windsor, said he chose the school based on the companies set up in the city. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

The city of Windsor was ranked 38 out of 50 on a list of best Canadian cities for international students in December.

The list was created by website Clever Canadian and used data on diversity, yearly graduate percentages, rent costs, tuition, Internet speed and living expenses to rank the cities.

CBC News spoke with a Windsor-based international university student and the registrar of St. Clair College to find out why students choose Windsor and what struggles they face.

Jobs number one attracting factor

Sriram Velaga is an international student from India. He said he moved to Windsor in September to get his master's in computer programming at the University of Windsor.

Velaga said he and other international students chose Windsor based on the companies in the city.

"Most people when they are international students, they mostly talk about jobs. So what jobs they can get and what courses to that particular job they could choose from," Velaga said.

Mike Silvaggi, registrar and academic vice-president at St. Clair College, said job prospects are the main draw for international students.

"Employment prospects is by far number one [for picking a city]," he said.

Rental costs lower according to survey

According to the Clever Canadian list, Windsor has lower rental costs than other cities in the province, though data shows the city is becoming more expensive with less available properties.

Silvaggi said St. Clair College offers newcomers a chance to live their first semester in Windsor in a residence meant just for international students.

"Before we started down this path of significantly going after international students, we wanted to ensure that the community could handle the influx of students," he said.

"We built a 500-room residence on campus to specifically give students an opportunity to settle in Windsor," he said, adding that the residence allows students to get "acclimatized to the region and then find resources on their own."

Belaga said some international students living off campus in Windsor share bedrooms in student rental homes to save on costs.

International students more likely to use food banks

In October, CBC News visited a food bank line in Windsor and found that many of the people waiting in line were international students.

Velaga said that he and his peers find it difficult to find part time work in Windsor, which adds to their financial difficulties.

Submitted by St. Clair College
Submitted by St. Clair College

Silvaggi said St. Clair College wants to hear from its international students when they are struggling. He said the college keeps connected with groups its students access, like Windsor's local gurdwara, the Southeast Asian Council, and the New Canadian Centre for Excellence.

"We do know that students are going out and accessing resources," Silvaggi said, adding that the college has its own food bank students can access.

He said international students at St. Clair College have been joining student government and student associations, which he said allows upper faculty to hear their needs and struggles directly.

"That feedback is coming directly to management. Senior management has meetings ongoing with their student representatives," he said.

"This doesn't work unless there's collaboration, and there's collaboration with students and collaboration with our community."