Contrary to how the recent airport pickup confusion would make it seem, the International Student Advisor’s Office (ISAO) is in good shape heading into the 2014-2015 academic year.
With a new commitment from the university to provide international student funding starting this year with $75,000, the ISAO will be able to reassess old programs and develop new ones to support UNB’s 1,031 international students.
“We recognized that we have international students who need services and that we need to provide enough support for them to function effectively in the university community,” said Shirley Cleave, associate vice-president academic at UNB.
Last year, a reallocation of funding by the administration meant that the ISAO had to cut some of their services and the UNBSU had to step up to fund their airport pick-up service. Although the service was again funded by the UNBSU this year, with the additional funds promised by the university, the ISAO is looking to revamp their programming.
“I think we’ll be able to increase our programming now that the university has given the additional funding. [Funding’s] not a concern. It’s more exciting, actually, that we’ll be able to try new initiatives and come up with some new ideas that will help the students best,” said Nancy O’Shea, director of the ISAO.
A lack of volunteers and coordination added complications to this year’s international student airport pick-up, highlighting the confusion between the UNBSU and the university administration over who was responsible for offering the service.
The UNBSU had partnered with the ISAO to organize the service for a second year despite saying they would only help for one year.
“We’re very appreciative of working in partnership with the Student Union. And as with any
programming, there’s always areas for improvement,” Tania Serrano, the ISAO’s international student and immigration advisor, said.
With the new funds, many programs offered by the ISAO, such as airport pick-up, are under
“Right now the focus is in the planning mode. Again reassessing those programs, finding which ones we’ll keep,” O’Shea said.
As for the airport pick-up service, Student Union President Greg Bailey said it is unlikely that the UNBSU will help with it next year.
“From what we’ve heard so far though, it’s looking like we probably won’t be able to do it ourselves next year. The Student Union just doesn’t have the resources to do this indefinitely: scraping together the time, people and money to do it at our busiest time of year is tough, given our size,” Bailey said.
But the Student Union still has plans in place to advocate on behalf of international students. “Obviously advocating for international students is still a major priority, and we’ve tried to broaden how we advocate for them,” he said.
“We’ve helped the UNB International Student Association start up and our election priorities to all parties this year through the New Brunswick Student Alliance included the request that the government allow international students access to the provincial health care. It’s basically an across-the-board push.”