International students stuck learning abroad amid pandemic travel restrictions
WATERLOO -- Some international students studying in the Waterloo area say they're stuck abroad waiting to come to Canada amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in their home countries and the looming threat of a travel ban for foreign students.
“When the situation is good I will rebook my flight,” said Chinmay Shah, a Conestoga College student studying in India.
Shah was supposed to arrive in Waterloo Region on May 9 before his flight had to be postponed. He said he doesn’t mind waiting to travel as his health is top of mind.
“Knowing what is happening in Canada right now, the cases are surging right now, so rather than going there I would be staying at my home,” Shah said.
The college is encouraging students to stay put and not travel if they don't have to.
A $1000 bursary is available for students who start their studies while out of the country, said Gary Hallam, vice president of international at Conestoga College.
Conestoga College is seeing record-breaking enrollment this spring semester with more than 4,000 students expected to start this month.
“The demand for Conestoga has never been stronger,” Hallam said.
Maria Bianca Joy Hernandez, a Conestoga College student currently in the Philippines, was also forced to postpone her April arrival.
“I'm just hoping that everything gets better,” Hernandez said.
She is aiming to come to Canada in the coming weeks.
“I was very sad and frustrated," Hernandez said. "I really look forward to seeing my classmates."
Classes are already being conducted remotely. Some international students said they are happy with virtual learning.
“Our professors are very accommodating and helpful,” said Hernandez.
When students do make it to Canada they will be asked to follow pandemic travel protocols which include a mandatory hotel quarantine and COVID-19 testing before leaving and upon arrival.