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'Almost one-third of our applications are from international students'

Michelle Beaton, director of recruitment for the University of Toronto’s engineering school, says international students can get merit-based scholarships and a whole year’s professional experience.
BY Uma Asher |   03-05-2017

The office of Michelle Beaton, director of recruitment for the University of Toronto’s (U of T) Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, helps future international students navigate the application process for admission to engineering programs. In an exclusive email interview with BrainGain Magazine recently, she discussed student diversity, scholarship and funding opportunities, career services, and the International Foundation Program.

Michelle Beaton (photo by Marit Mitchell, used with permission)

Please tell us a bit about your role and what your office does.
I am the director of recruitment for the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Canada’s top-ranked engineering school and one of the best in the world. U of T’s Engineering Student Recruitment & Retention office is responsible for assisting international students and families through the navigation of the university selection and admission process. We are a resource for prospective students and applicants at each step of the university application process — from considering their options, to submitting and completing their applications, to transitioning to Toronto and Canada in September.
Could you give us some information about international students in the university’s engineering programs?
We received more than 12,000 applications for close to 1,000 spaces in our undergraduate engineering programs last year, and celebrated our most diverse incoming class in the Faculty’s history — we welcomed students from 86 countries to campus last fall, and more than 40% of our first-year class was female. Our international applicant pool has nearly tripled over the past 10 years, illustrating renowned global reputation. Again this year, almost one third of our applications are from international students — more than 4,400. We do not impose quotas, and are focused on admitting the best applicants from around the world to join us in September 2017. U of T Engineering is home to more than 5,400 undergraduates and 2,300 graduate students who choose to study and work in one of the world’s safestand most diversecities.

Students at the University of Toronto (photo by Tyler Irving, used with permission)

What is the International Foundation Program?
The International Foundation Program is a unique offering that combines conditional acceptance to the University of Toronto with intensive English language instruction. The IFP is available to academically qualified international students who are graduating from an international high school and whose English fluency scores do not meet the University of Toronto’s published entrance requirements. Students applying to the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering should demonstrate excellence in Mathematics and Sciences throughout high school. In order to be eligible for admission, candidates must complete senior level courses in Mathematics (including Calculus), Physics and Chemistry. International high school candidates who have excellent grades in these prerequisite courses but have English proficiency test scores lower than normally required for direct admission may apply to the IFP. Successful completion of the one-year IFP program will guarantee admission to the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering with one full credit the following year. 
What percentage of international students in engineering receive financial assistance? Can students work off-campus?
The University of Toronto offers a robust suite of dedicated entrance merit scholarships for international students, including the U of T Engineering International Scholar Award and The Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship. In addition to these opportunities, international students are also considered for a number of general Faculty awards and scholarships as part of the admission process. International students can work on and off campus during their studies. All U of T Engineering students, including our international students can access paid work opportunities on and off campus.
What distinguishes international students who get financial assistance from those who don’t?
We do not offer needs-based funding or financial assistance to international students — we do offer many merit scholarships and awards.

What is the PEY internship?
Our Professional Experience Year (PEY) internship program offers students the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience at more than 300 employers, from vibrant startups to major multinational companies. Last year, more than 700 students chose to take part in the paid PEY internship program, where the average salary was CAD $50,000 and the highest was CAD $104,000. These students had more than 1,800 positions to choose from. Additional paid employment opportunities for international students the paid Engineering Summer Internship Program (eSip) and the First-Year Summer Research Fellowship program.
What do prospective engineering students need to know about the admissions process?
Admission to Canada’s top-ranked engineering program — and one of the best in the world — is highly competitive. Applicants to U of T Engineering programs are evaluated on the basis of both academic and non-academic criteria as part of our holistic admission process. In addition to academic performance, we consider a student’s interest and strengths when they tell us a bit more about themselves in their Online Student Profile — this is a student’s opportunity to provide a fuller picture of themselves and tell us why they’re passionate about engineering!

University of Toronto engineering students (photo by Roberta Baker, used with permission)

How do international students of engineering prepare for the job market?
U of T Engineering students graduate into a global community of 50,000 alumni living and working in 100 countries. The success of our alumni is a testament to the portability of a degree from one of the world’s top engineering schools. To equip our students to excel after graduation, we offer extensive support from our Engineering Career Centre, an office dedicated exclusively to the professional success of U of T Engineering students and recent graduates. The Centre’s career experts work with students to prepare them for their futures through workshops, seminars, career fairs, and networking opportunities with employers. 
Which engineering programs are the most popular with international applicants?  
It’s difficult to isolate one ‘popular’ program for international students. The curriculum across U of T Engineering’s nine programs emphasizes choice and flexibility — allowing students to customize their studies to their evolving interests and goals. Students tailor their programs by choosing areas of focus in their upper years, as well as with a wide range of minors and certificates in fields from biomedical engineering, to robotics & mechatronics, to engineering business. Students in all programs are given the opportunity to work with real-world clients to solve industry-relevant challenges, right from their first year. U of T Engineering programs set students up for success in an enormous range of fields — our alumni have gone on to become global entrepreneurs, leading IP litigators, renowned roboticists, blockbuster movie producers, top banking executives, pioneering astronauts, and so much more.

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