How SAIT invests in the success of international students to Canada
Mental health is an important consideration for international students deciding where they want to pursue their education abroad.
According to a survey of over “10,000 prospective students from 181 countries” “there has been a 14% increase in the percentage of students who say that a university’s mental health support services are very important” since 2020.
In spite of this reality, a 2022 report from ICEF Monitor suggests that many international students either do not take advantage of such wellness services or do not know how to access them. According to i-graduate's International Student Barometer (ISB) survey, less than one-in-five students (16%) utilized counselling services of some kind at their institution in 2021.
i-graduate is a North American company that surveys international students to understand their opinions and feelings on various different subject matter. Nearly a quarter (22%) of survey participants, however, said that they did not even know how to access their school’s counselling services.
Mental Health and Wellness Services at SAIT
At the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), students have access to a number of mental health and wellness services as well as academic supports and workshops that can aid them in handling the stress caused by different parts of the international education experience.
These services include learning and study skills, tutoring and writing supports , a dedicated Wellness Centre and on-campus counsellors. SAIT also provides students with many different Career Advancement Services.
According to the above-cited educations.com survey, the largest area of concern amongst prospective international students was dealing with tuition fees and living expenses (84.1%). At SAIT, the Financial Advising team in Lamb Learner Success Centre can work with students to provide funding resources and budgeting options and advice to students trying to navigate how they will pay for their education.
Another top concern among prospective international students is fitting in and making friends (15.8%). This area of concern aligns closely with two other notable issues identified by prospective international students: not speaking the local language (21.8%) and being far from home (15.8%). All three of these problems revolve around finding happiness and feeling comfortable in a new environment.
To aid international students in their quest to find comfort at SAIT, we have several dedicated spaces where students can build a community of colleagues and friends that will last a lifetime. With a history that includes welcoming students from 140 different countries, these spaces are designed to help all students interact with other members of the SAIT community and feel at home in the company of others.
SAITSA: SAIT’s student association holds regular events and information sessions around campus where students can get together and interact with one another while indulging in fun activities like a parfait bar or learning about important topics like claiming health and dental benefits.
Chinook Lodge: Where indigenous members of our student population can gather to connect with peers, access advising and counselling, participate in events, network and more.
Interfaith Centre: A space for students of all religions to come together. Through weekly prayer, the Interfaith Centre promotes inclusivity, respect and conversation around religion in a space where the differences between people and cultures are explored and celebrated.
International Centre: A hub for international students from the time they arrive at SAIT to well after they graduate, the International Centre provides students with a supportive and inclusive environment where they can get help with everything from admissions to academic support and immigration advice.
At the International Centre, SAIT also conducts a series of transition seminars to help international students to settle in Calgary and navigate their journey in new country – from housing and accommodations to healthcare and insurance – that can create additional stress and anxiety for those moving to a new country. These seminars cover:
- Discover Calgary and SAIT
- Housing in Calgary
- Travel to Canada with your family
- Important Tasks and Next Steps
- Alberta’s Healthcare Plan and Insurance Coverage
- Preparing for your arrival in Calgary
- Student Immigration Journey
- Social Insurance Numbers and Scam Prevention
- Well-being and Making Connections in Canada
- Panel: What I wish I’d known as an International Student
- What to do in a medical emergency
- Budgeting and Expense Planning
In at least one seminar or engagement event per semester, Student Development and Counselling (SDC) and the International Centre at SAIT will allow international students to take part in a panel discussion where current international student leaders are invited to talk openly and share their experiences when it comes to mental and physical wellbeing.
International students who missed the opportunity to participate in any International Centre webinars can access all the above information and recordings through the iCent app.
The iCent App is another property used by SAIT to digitally deliver key academic information, notifications and alerts about events or activities and more to international students with a smartphone. Available through Google Play, the App Store and as a desktop application, students can access key information straight from SAIT’s International Centre through this app.
Note: Representatives from SAIT’s International Centre are also present at Calgary International Airport (YYC) airport for three full weeks prior to the start of every semester. These representatives are there to welcome our new international students, answer questions, aid students looking for transportation and create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
More about SAIT
SAIT has a history in education dating back more than 100 years. SAIT is among fifteen designated learning institutions (DLIs) across the entire city of Calgary.
Note: Calgary, the most populated city in Alberta, was ranked as the third most livable city in the world according to Economist Intelligence’s 2022 Global Liveability Index
Receiving an education at a DLI means that international students attending SAIT may become eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which is beneficial for those who hope to eventually become permanent residents in Canada.
Obtaining a PGWP, which requires international students to graduate from an eligible program at a DLI like SAIT, will give eligible international students a work permit for up to three years (depending on their program of study). This permit can then be used to accumulate one year of Canadian work experience, which is required in order to be eligible for many of Canada’s federal and provincial immigration programs.
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