The World of International Education

The World of International Education
Posted on 08/31/2023

by Dahlia Liwsze, Administrative Assistant

Working in the Ottawa International Student Program (OISP) office, I answer a wide variety of questions by phone and email.

Prospective international students and their parents wonder about everything from the application process to government and educational documents that must be submitted to tuition fees and homestay/custodianship options.

They sometimes ask which schools are the best in Ottawa, and I assure them that all OCDSB schools are excellent and teach the curriculum mandated by the Ontario Ministry of Education. Many questions focus on language requirements. There are 5 ESL levels with AO being beginner and EO being advanced. Students coming for Grade 12, for instance, must have more advanced English and are informed that it may take them longer than a year to graduate. Students take online assessments to determine English and math skill levels before arriving in Ottawa to assist with school placement.

If his or her parent has a valid study or work permit, a student can study for free until the age of 18. Otherwise, he or she is an international fee-paying student. I advise students that they need to have a study permit if they plan to study in Canada for more than one semester, i.e. more than six months. Our office does not provide immigration advice though. We direct students and parents to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Overall, working with international students is rewarding. I strongly believe in international education and convey that to students. As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.”

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