Concordia is taking action to address student housing issues for students from China, and particularly for those benefiting from the Concordia China Student Recruitment Partnership Program (CCSRPP).
The university will establish virtual and on-site orientation sessions in Mandarin for new students coming from China, which will feature information on housing and tenant rights. This service will be offered in other major languages, including Arabic and Farsi. A Mandarin version of the International Students Office pre-departure guide is also in the works.
Student and Enrolment Services will arrange to conduct interviews annually with a random sample of 15 per cent of CCSRPP students to review their experiences and identify aspects requiring improvement. A survey will also be conduced later this fall on university residence, with a focus on international students.
"These are solid first steps,” explained Roger Côté, vice-president, Services, who initiated a review in late September after issues were raised by the student newspaper, The Link, about student housing issues for students from China and CCSRPP.
While Concordia is not involved in providing homestay arrangements, Côté called for a review of the CCSRPP framework to determine whether students were well served by the external provider, Vancouver-based Orchard Consultants.
“Concordia already offers considerable information and assistance with respect to students and housing, but we are prepared to do more,” he added. To date, a handful of students has approached the university for support.
Concordia sent email to international students
When Concordia first learned about the housing issues, the university emailed all 5,200 international students on October 2, indicating its concern about possible problems with off-campus housing and inviting them to contact the Dean of Students Office.
To date, Concordia has had a good working relationship with Orchard and would not have had the same recruitment success in China without this relationship. Under the CCSRPP, Orchard Consultants hire licensed education agents in China and represent Concordia at international education fairs. Many major Canadian universities make use of external recruitment services.
However, Orchard Consulting offers, independently of the university, the option of applying to live in a homestay. This is a service that students contract through Orchard Consulting. Concordia does not receive, collect, remit or pay any funds for this service. Students who choose this transitional housing service pay the homestay service directly upon arrival.
In reviewing how these services were presented on both the Concordia and CCSRPP websites, it was determined that the language wasn't clear and could lead to the assumption that Concordia was involved in the homestay arrangements. Therefore, the information has been removed from the websites.
Additional recommended measures
Going forward, other recommended measures, which are either planned or implemented, include requiring that copies of all documentation signed by the CCSRPP and Orchard Consulting with Concordia students be both in English and Mandarin. This includes homestay applications even though this service is outside the parameters of the university’s current agreement.
"Now we will invite other groups on campus to collaborate in an effective manner, sharing knowledge and resources. We owe it to our students,” he said.
• Enrolment and Student Services
• Dean of Students Office