Algonquin College alumna Irene Thomas takes calls at Student Central. Photo credit: Leslie Bader

Starting Nov. 15, any student with a study permit and off-campus work authorization will be able to work more than the current maximum of 20 hours per week.

The federal pilot project is being established to help combat the country’s labour shortages.

“International students will get to be exposed to a continuous working environment to help them prepare for their future endeavours,” said Brian Padre-e, a fourth-year business management and entrepreneurship student from the Philippines. “It will help the country deal with labour shortages while allowing students to save up for all their basic necessities.”

There is currently no limit on the number of hours international students can work in on-campus jobs, but the number of applicants greatly exceeds the positions available.

Irene Thomas, a graduate of the project management and regulatory affairs program, welcomed the government’s news.

“Yeah, I actually feel so happy for that. It was so hard for all of us to get some money to pay the fees,” said Thomas. “When I was a student, I always had eight-hour shifts, but then three shifts was 24 hours, so I was always stressed about that. I had to ask my employer to deduct my breaks so I wasn’t over 20 hours.”

Thomas, who now works as an enrollment services representative, echoed the sentiments of Padre-e.

“Now we can work full-time and build relationships with our employers. It will help us to be successful after our studies,” she said.

Damien Dunne is the acting director of the International Education Centre, which is located in the back corner of Student Central. While acknowledging the removal of the 20-hour cap will allow international students more flexibility as they balance their school and work commitments, Dunne stressed that academic success is the priority for Algonquin College students.

“I think it will allow students to work additional hours in weeks when their academic workload is not as demanding, and perhaps fewer when their program workload is higher,” said Dunne.

Padre-e, who also works as a student recruiter for Algonquin College, agreed there could be academic consequences to taking on more work.

“There is a huge possibility of loss of focus for students who want to earn more resulting in neglect of their studies,” he said.

The pilot project runs until Dec. 31, 2023.