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International Student Support Digest #3

By: International Student Support, Lyn-Marie Farley
March 02, 2020

Thank you for continuing to engage with this Digest as we continue to work toward a more unified support for international students at Ryerson. The previous editions of the ISS Digest have touched on international student experiences on campus to date, responsibilities as temporary residents and Ryerson’s responsibility to Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). With this edition, we hope to generate greater awareness of international student experiences as they seek to work or engage in co-op or internship opportunities while completing their academic program. 

This digest will:

  • Clarify international student eligibility to work both on- or off-campus
  • Make the distinction between co-op and internship from an immigration perspective
  • Discuss the value of international students working in spaces on campus
  • Describe financial assistance opportunities provided by ISS 

In the first ISS digest, we touched on the top 3 reasons this year’s incoming cohort of students chose to study at Ryerson. According to a PDF file2018 CBIE international student survey, external link, a significant number of international students at the post-secondary level choose Canada as their destination for further studies because of the opportunity to work during and after their studies. The survey concluded that 62% of students surveyed indicated that the opportunity to work while studying in Canada was important and 75% of students indicated that the chance to work after completing their studies was an important factor in choosing Canada as a study destination.

Key terms in this issue: 

  • CBIE: Canadian Bureau of International Education, external link is an organization focused on the advancement of international education in Canada.
  • Co-op Work Permit: A work permit required for all foreign students who wish to participate in a co-op or internship program at a Designated Learning Institution. 
  • ITN: Individual tax number is a unique number provided to non-residents by the Canada Revenue Agency if ineligible for a Social Insurance Number.

Supporting international student employability 

The ability for international students to work on campus is beneficial to their growth and development while studying at Ryerson. The Career Boost International Program at Ryerson provides excellent opportunities for employers on campus to support international student professional development.

On campus employment is an excellent opportunity for international students to:

  • Gain valuable Canadian work experience
  • Network and form connections with Ryerson faculty and staff 
  • Help mitigate increasing financial challenges that many international students face

What is the value of international students working in our campus spaces?

  • International students bring tremendous perspectives to our spaces on campus. The diversity of their identities, experiences and perspectives can collectively build greater sensitivity and empathy toward newcomer populations on campus. 
  • The 2020-25 Academic Plan includes Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as a continued key value at Ryerson University. International students can help us continue to build a culturally educated and appreciative community at Ryerson.
  • Leveraging international student staff to share with us their experiences inside and outside of the classroom can help inform how we shape and evolve our programs and services in order to ensure their retention and success. 
  • Through intentional conversation, we can learn from international students about ways we can improve systems and processes to ensure our internationalization strategies and support services meet their needs.


International Student Eligibility to Work in Canada

International students who are enrolled in a full-time academic program at a Designated Learning Institution may work on or off-campus without a work permit if they meet all of the following:

  • They possess a valid study permit which confirms their eligibility to work
  • The possess a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • They are enrolled in a program that is longer than 6 months in length and they have commenced their program of study

Did you know?

International students enrolled in the Real Institute, International University Foundations Program or exchange students can only work on campus if they are studying full-time and have a valid study permit.

Some programs of study at Ryerson include work or internships as a part of the curriculum. 

Regardless of whether the program is a co-op program (e.g. Chemical Engineering) or an internship opportunity (e.g. Nursing), international students are required to apply for the Co-op Work Permit to participate in these employment opportunities. 

Students must be in possession of the Co-op Work Permit BEFORE the work term or placement opportunity begins. From an immigration perspective, it does not matter whether or not the student is being paid for the work.

It is a required document for international students who will be completing a co-op work opportunity or placement period. This permit allows international students to work full-time during regular academic sessions. 

Students should apply prior to the work term. Our recommendation is that students apply as soon as they know they will be completing a co-op work term or placement opportunity. The IRCC processing times fluctuate quite often (as often as weekly), however, recently we have been seeing processing times of 3 or more months.

We strongly recommend that you encourage students to attend our Immigration Insights group advising sessions. These sessions are offered monthly covering various immigration applications including the co-op work permit. Students will leave these sessions with strong knowledge of how to apply for the permit and consequently greater confidence in working on and submitting their application to IRCC.

Reach out to us at! We would be happy to work with you to provide information to international students on their responsibility as international students to apply for the co-op work permit.


Students participating in tax clinic

Program Spotlight - ISS Tax Clinics

Tax season is upon us and, for anyone, filing taxes can be a confusing process. Place yourselves in the shoes of an international student who has little to no experience filing taxes elsewhere in the world and now is responsible for navigating the Canadian tax system. 

Every year, ISS offers tax filing programs to help international students learn about taxes in Canada as well as assist them in filing their taxes. Our Tax 101 information session provides education to students to help them understand the tax filing process, their responsibilities and also to help ease the nervousness of navigating an important administrative process here in Canada. 

Last year, with the help of over 50 3rd and 4th year Accounting and Finance student volunteers, we filed taxes for over 500 international students! Read more about the effort here., external link

This year, our tax clinics will be held in March - more details can be found on our website.  


Did you know?

Not all international students are eligible for a Social Insurance Number which is largely due to restrictions on their study permits. However, if ineligible for a SIN, students can apply to the Canada Revenue Agency for an Individual Tax Number. This year we will be collaborating with Ryerson’s legal clinic to help international students with the ITN application. 


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Financial Support

International students often face challenges as a result of various factors including (but not limited to) high tuition and fees, difficulty finding affordable and adequate housing, and challenges with finding employment due to work eligibility limitations.

Another challenge international students face is currency fluctuations due to the political climate in their home countries. This issue compounded with increased tuition fees places increasing financial strain on students. 

What financial support is provided through ISS?

In ISS we administer 3 bursaries and awards:

  • Salad King Awards: generously gifted by the Liu family in recognition of international student leadership on campus. 
  • Scotiabank Scholarship: In recognition of top academic achievement for upper year international students based on cumulative academic performance at the end of the Fall semester. Students do not need to apply for this award.
  • ISS Emergency Bursary: A one-time only bursary intended on supporting international students in unanticipated financial need.

More detailed information can be found on the ISS website; you may connect with us at should you have further questions.



Up next

Thanks for reading! Coming up in the Spring, the next ISS Digest will be discussing the international student transition out of Ryerson, graduation support offered by ISS and how our work in supporting this transition may be connected to yours! 

For more information about ISS please visit our website at Please feel free to direct any questions you may have to Lyn-Marie Farley, Manager, International Student Support & Intercultural Learning at

If students are interested in connecting with us, please encourage them to visit our office in lower Podium Building, room POD-50A or email us at  

Work with us!

We can run an information session for your team, students, advisors, and anyone supporting students on co-ops and internships looking for more information about Co-op Work Permits and things to keep in mind in your timelines and planning when it comes to international students needs. Call ISS at: 416-979-5000 ext. 6655.