International Student Connect is a service of COSTI Immigrant Services. It's a rare service from a large Immigrant and Refugee-serving organization that is mainly funded by IRCC. IRCC doesn't allow these organizations to serve international students. This, in spite of the fact that those students need services and are increasingly part of two-step immigration pathways to permanence in Canada.
This is where provincial funders have typically stepped in. In this case International Student Connect is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
According to the site the "International Student Connect project offers information and orientation resources to international students found on the ISC website and in printed format. Resources include A Handbook for International Students in Ontario, Ontario International Students Guide, ISC webinars and fact sheets on various settlement topics."
What is particularly unique is that International Student Connect offers both online/virtual services and information, along with in-person services across Ontario through partner organizations. This includes a mix of educational institutions and settlement agencies.
The online services have expanded in recent times to include the above resources, the Orientation to Ontario chatbot, accessible on the site, as well as the ArriveON app, available on Android, iPhone, and Microsoft store (for PC download).
What makes this a good idea?
International Student Connect provides International Students with an authoritative information source along with connections in their community where they can get needed help and support. That alone makes it useful.
But from a technical perspective, International Student Connect is connected to the broader Orientation to Ontario program, which provides a glimpse of what an emerging omnichannel information system can look like. Whether an International Student accesses information through the chatbot, app, webinar, PDF downloads, or in-person at a service provider, they get access to the same consistent information.
That consistency and no-wrong-door approach to providing information and access to the information increasingly in seamless ways is essential for the future relevancy of the sector.
You can read more about International Student Connect on their website, or download this brief from the Sharing Settlement and Integration Practices that Work site, as well as watch their video overview.