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Foreign students key to city's growth.

Mansoureh Akbari spent three years working as a nurse in her native Iran before getting on a plane to Canada.

Two years ago, she started the nursing program at Laurentian University. She plans to look for a job locally when she is finished her studies.

She is certainly not alone. Every year, hundreds of students from around the globe take up studies at one of the city's post-secondary schools. Many plan to look for work locally, within the province or somewhere else in Canada when they finish their studies. The money they spend on living expenses and tuition is fresh dollars spent in the community. A lot of them try to stay right in the North, since the reason they came here in the first place was to experience a smaller city, perhaps more like their hometown, away from the rat race that is Toronto.

"I would like to practise as a nurse here because I have no idea what it is like to be a nurse here," Akbari intimated.

She noted specifically that, though she landed in Toronto, she had no intention of staying around the Golden Horseshoe.

"I live close to Lake Ramsey," she said. "I walk there everyday, especially during the summer. Sudbury is smaller and there is easy access to everything. It's a very multicultural society. I like it."

Akbari is studying gerontology as she tries to get her nursing credentials from Iran recognized here. She had never heard-of gerontology in Iran, and is fascinated by that branch of health care.

She was one of about three dozen international students in attendance at their annual reception at City Hall. Those students represented at least 29 countries, including Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Chad, China, Congo, Sri Lanka, France, Germany, Nambia, Italy, Haiti, Guinea, Hong Kong, Vietnam, India, Senegal, Kenya, Togo, Mexico, Quatar, Burundi, Spain, Finland, Rwanda, Japan, Burundi and, of course, Iran.

Another was Moustapha Kori who is enrolled at College Boreal in mining and civil engineering courses. He is one of the school's 23 international students. Boreal's total enrolment last year was about 1,000. He plans to finish there and move on to either mining or civil engineering at Laurentian, and then to work in the area.

Kori got the lowdown on Sudbury from cousins of his who attended Laurentian as international students about five years ago.

"I came because it has the program I want. I heard it was a very good city, very open," he said, adding he can now confirm that intelligence from personal experience. "I miss my family, but I like it."

Gao (Sean) Xiang was sent to Sudbury by his parents when he finished high school in China. Enrolled in the Communications program at Laurentian, he will spend his final year in the Advertising program at Cambrian College, thanks to an articulation agreement ratified in 2001. He is part of what is probably the largest contingent of international students at any of the city's higher learning institutions. About half of the 450-500 international students at the university hail from the land of 1.3 billion people.

"I hope to find a job (in advertising) here. If I don't, I could go back to China. I could work at an advertising agency, for television, or a newspaper."

Xiang, Kori and Akbari won't have to wait to get jobs to contribute to the city they now call home.

International students create more economic activity than their domestic counterparts.

According to College Boreal, each international student invests about $18,000 in the city; more if they stay in town over the summer.

Tuition at the francophone college for international students is $8,750. They have to buy medical insurance worth between $500 and $700, pay rent between $3,000 and $5,000, buy books worth up to $1,000. All this is on top of the general cost of living, including entertainment, food and transportation, which can run up to $5,000 or more.

At Cambrian, international tuition is $9,650. At Laurentian, a year of study costs $10,087, so a student's average cost at that school is around $21,000.

But the economic impact doesn't stop there. According to Mayor Dave Courtemanche, international students play a vital role in the community. He is currently serving on an immigration working committee at the bequest of the big city mayor's council of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

Courtemanche has described immigration as critical to the growth of his community at least since he took office in late 2003. Sudbury was built by immigrants after all, he says.

"Our universities and colleges are important economic drivers," he says. "The reception was a good example of how they serve as gateways for newcomers to the city."


He says it is key to link those students once they become graduates to local employers. The city needs foreign-trained doctors, tradespeople and investors now as much as it did during its inception, according to the mayor.

Those students who do settle down serve to create a "beachhead" for others from their home country, helping newcomers to integrate, and acting as ambassadors for others back home, as Kori's cousins did for him.


Northern Ontario Business
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Title Annotation:GREATER SUDBURY
Author:Gilbert, Craig
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Oct 1, 2005
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