Fanshawe students face housing woes
A group of almost 40 international students have enrolled at Fanshawe College's Simcoe campus this semester. More than 20 of the students are still searching for long-term accommodations. Among those new to the college are, from left, Guntas Dhillon, Anupama Takkar, Ananthakrishnan Sadanandan and Bibin Thankachan. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer
A large group of international students attending Fanshawe College's Simcoe campus is in need of housing.
Donna Gates, chair of the campus, said Wednesday that 39 students from India have enrolled in the two-year social service worker program in recent weeks, over 20 of which are currently in need of a long-term residence.
While a few have found places to stay, a number of others are living at the hotels and other short-term places waiting for something more permanent to come available.
A few factors have contributed to the situation, Gates said. Some students weren't prepared for the average cost of living in Norfolk County while others claim they thought a residence would be provided upon arrival.
“One of the things that takes some time for everyone to get accustomed to is the cost of housing ... It's a shock if you think you're going to pay a certain amount of money and when you come the going rate is different,” Gates said.
“The students were not ever promised a dorm or a residence ... All of our students, domestic or international, have to find their own housing arrangements, it's not something the college normally does.”
Student Ananthakrishnan Sadanandan arrived in Ontario Dec. 18. It took a while but he eventually found a home. Sadanandan stayed at area hotels for a couple weeks before securing a long-term location on Robinson St.
Some members of the group, said Sadanandan, have turned to local church members for assistance.
“They're helping us,” he said. “And also we have the support team from the college, they're giving us support to find accommodations.”
A pair of the new students said they were told they would attend Fanshawe's main campus in London before being re-routed to Simcoe.
Gates said there may have been a disconnect between the students and the agency they used to facilitate their enrolment.
“I know their agent got the (acceptance) documents but what got relayed between the agent and the students I don't really know,” Gates added.
“Information travels from the college through an agent to the student, it's not a perfect system. Most of them knew they were coming to Simcoe but there are a couple who thought they were going to London and were hoping to stay with friends.”
Gates said the situation is slowly working itself out, with two students finding a place on Tuesday alone. She's confident each newcomer will have a permanent base sooner than later.
“Every day a little bit more get resolved and over time it will all get resolved,” she said.
While this case is unusual given the large number of students involved, Gates added that the process of welcoming international students isn't without its flaws.
“It's not perfect, but this is all normal for international (students). There's some misunderstanding no matter what country they're coming from,” she said. “It's not about the agents in India versus any other country, when you have to go through multiple channels like that and you're going through all these government agencies to get here, certain pieces of communications get dropped.”
The college will consider all types of long-term rentals including rooms, shared facilities, and apartments. For more information contact Melissa Rowbottom of student services at 519-426-8260 ext. 223.