Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

NAIT ranked as a top Canadian post-secondary institute by international students

Polytechnic recognized for safety, quality of education, advising and counselling, and more

International students at NAIT rank it among the top schools in Canada for employability and overall experience in a recent national survey.

The respondents gave the polytechnic top marks for preparing them for work in Canada, for satisfaction with their program, and for the support they receive from international advisers, tutors and counsellors. They also deemed the polytechnic’s campus safest among the 46 universities, colleges and polytechnics surveyed.

The survey was conducted by the Canadian Bureau for International Education, Canada’s flagship international education association, based in Ottawa. In all, 145 of about 1,750 NAIT international students participated in the survey, or 8.4% of the total international student body, between February and April, 2018.

international students at NAITA direct impact on student experience

NAIT has added many support services for international students in recent years, including two certified immigration consultants and eight certified advisers, as well as a peer mentor program, a dedicated counsellor and an academic tutor for newcomers.

An innovative onboarding program has international advisers meet with each new international student to do a settlement assessment, helping to quickly identify the need for additional supports. A newcomer booster program in August will help students prepare for campus life (see sidebar below).

Karen Velasco (Marketing '18), vice-president external for the NAIT Students’ Association, knows firsthand the challenges international students face.

When she came to study business in 2016 from the Philippines, “It was definitely a culture shock,” she says. “I didn’t know anyone.”

“It was definitely a culture shock.”

She participated in a NAIT webinar from the Philippines before she arrived, which helped connect her with campus resources and reduce some of her concerns.

“When I finally came here, we were really prepared for the international student orientation, and there were peer mentors there to support us.”

Because of that support, she was inspired to become a peer mentor to help other international students. Velasco knows that the usual challenges beyond the classroom for all students are sometimes more complex for international students, including “everyday” things like housing, relationships and finances.

international student peer mentors at NAITBest in class

Overall, NAIT ranked #1 among institutions in the region in several areas, such as overall satisfaction with their program, preparation for employment in Canada, and their experience with orientation, tutoring, counselling/mental health services and overall health services.

“These results are an indication of the great work that has been done over the past several years to ensure our international students are well-supported throughout their academic career at NAIT," says Alison Lewis, associate vice-president campus life.

"Our staff work tirelessly to provide accurate, timely information and workshops for students, from pre-arrival through to graduation and beyond. Our instructors are focused on ensuring student success. We are focused on continuous improvement, and I’m pleased that these results affirm our efforts."

 

'Newcomer booster' event

A new, four-day event at NAIT aims to help international students prepare for life on campus.

The Newcomer Booster runs from August 20 to 23 and offers free sessions on topics that include public speaking, working in groups, navigating social media and applying for permanent residency in Canada.

The event is meant to help with the challenges newcomer students face when adjusting to a new culture, city and school environment, says Patrick Sullivan, manager of international programs and services at NAIT.

“There’s a need for quick learning before classes kick into full gear. The booster is really to level the playing field by equipping the students with a sense of what to expect, where to find more resources and to connect them with the teams to support them.”

There are more than 1,700 international students at NAIT, with almost 400 of them new to the polytechnic this fall. More than 100 students have signed up for the event.

Session runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the first three days. The fourth day includes games, a graduation ceremony, lunch and a field trip to Hawrelak Park.


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