International Students in Toronto: A Way Forward

Date(s) - 7 Nov 2023
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM




The Intergovernmental Committee for Economic and Labour Force Development (ICE) and the Toronto South Local Immigration Partnership (TSLIP)’s Systemic Issue and Social Change Working Group invite you to watch the recording of the webinar we hosted on November 7, 2023 on the challenges in supporting international students in Toronto colleges, and a conversation on a way forward.

Click here to watch Recording


The number of international students enrolled in Canadian colleges has more than doubled since 2015. In Ontario colleges, international students represent more than half of all enrolments. This increased enrolment has resulted in a growing component of permanent resident candidates; however many international students struggle in the Canadian labour market following graduation.

The webinar celebrates the launch of Best Practices in Supporting International Students Enrolled in Toronto-area Colleges, a study that shares insight into the needs and challenges of international students, reviews supports at public colleges in the Toronto area, and offers recommendations to improve those supports. The study’s author is Dr. Marshia Akbar, Research Lead in Labour Migration, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration, Toronto Metropolitan University.  She will provide an overview of key findings and recommendations. A copy of the research report can be downloaded here.

Dr. Akbar’s webinar presentation slides can be downloaded  at Best Practices in Supporting International Students.

The Panel Discussion focused on ideas about  improving supports for international students in Toronto:

  • What are the opportunities for collaboration among the different institutions, orders of government and agencies that interface with international students to better ensure their successes? 
  • What role do public colleges play in the learning-to-labour pathway?
  • Peach & Pit: examples of successful initiatives, lessons learned, and how to replicate and expand upon them.Questions from audience members will be answered. 

Speaker and Discussion Panel Members:

Dr Marshia Akbar (Speaker) 

Research Lead in Labour Migration, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration, Toronto Metropolitan University.

Marshia Akbar is a Research Area Lead on Labor Migration at Toronto Metropolitan University’s Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Migration and Integration Program. Her research examines the labor market integration and inclusion of immigrants and migrants with temporary status in Canada from an intersectionality perspective. Currently, she is researching the transition and labor market integration of international students in Canada. In June 2022, she was awarded the Insight Development Grants by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to fund her study on international students. 


Srna Stambuk (Moderator)

Manager, Toronto North Local Immigration Partnership

Srna Stambuk is a veteran of newcomer services in Toronto with 20-year history of supporting newcomers and internationally trained professionals in relaunching their career. She currently serves as the Manager at Toronto North Local Immigration Partnership. Srna is a passionate advocate for newcomer employment success and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experiences working with variety of stakeholders in a wide array of programs – from pre-employment to bridging programs. Srna brings a big picture and critical lens to her work and is always looking to understand the root causes and connections among issues affecting newcomer employment.

Rahila Mushtaq (Panelist)

General Manager, COSTI Immigrant Services and International Student Connect

Rahila Mushtaq brings over 30 years of experience in project management in international development, with a focus on girls’ education and social services. She currently resides and works in Canada as an uninvited guest on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, Anishnabeg (ah-nish-naw-bek): the Chippewa, the Wendat peoples. Rahila deeply values Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in her personal and professional life.

At COSTI, Rahila is responsible for the Orientation to Ontario (O2O) and, in 2013, initiated a flagship program for international students (ISC). This role provides an opportunity to collaborate with a network of 70 partners, including universities, colleges, and settlement agencies across the province. Rahila joined COSTI in 2012 to align her passions with her career, utilizing her skills and talents to enhance the lives of others. She holds an MBA and a graduate degree in commerce.

Rina Di Mito, (Panelist)

Manager, Industry and Community Connector Hub, International Graduate School, Humber College

Rina Di Mito is a dedicated and accomplished professional with a multifaceted career spanning across the field of education including instruction, program coordination and management. 

As the Manager of the Industry and Community Connector Hub (ICHub) at the Humber International Graduate School, Rina develops strategic collaborative relationships with local businesses and community organizations to enhance the IGS learner experience, increase their employment opportunities and support their successful transition into the Canadian labour market.  

She provides leadership to the ICHub team to deliver high-quality on-site career skills development through the Community and Industry Engagement Course, the Career Mentorship Program and career planning services and supports. Rina’s unwavering commitment to assisting newcomers and international students overcome barriers to employment, is a testament to her commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and an opportunity to empower all those she serves to successfully navigate their professional journeys and achieve their ultimate career aspirations. 

Muna Jimale, (Panelist)

Manager, Policy & Advocacy, World Education Services (WES)

Muna Jimale, a migration and displacement professional, serves as the Manager of Policy and Advocacy at WES Canada, a non-profit enterprise dedicated to supporting the educational, economic, and social inclusion of newcomers in the U.S. and Canada.

Prior to joining WES, she worked in international development in Somalia; with the Parliament of Canada as a parliamentary assistant; and in-service provision with the non-profit organization Community MicroSkills.

Sabrina Silva (Panelist)

Executive Assistant, ACHEV, and former International student

Sabrina Silva currently works in the non-profit sector as an Executive Assistant. She started her journey in Canada in 2016 as an international student and can relate to their challenges, especially on their path to permanent residence.

 Her academic background includes a Business Administration Advanced Diploma Program with Humber College (2019), a Master of Business Economics – Foreign Trade (2013) and a Bachelor of Laws (2002). She is particularly interested in Communication and Networking, having completed her “Workplace Communication in Canada” course last August/2023 with the Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU, formerly Ryerson). On her time off, Sabrina loves listening to music, dancing and travelling with her husband and their twins.





ICE Committee