Hands-on education, industry connections draw international students to SAIT
An institution that offers programming for in-demand careers and is renowned for its applied learning courses that align closely with industry needs, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) is a top choice for international students.
Each year, SAIT welcomes more than 1,600 students from nearly 100 countries to study on the campus in the heart of Calgary.
While the number of programs — and global reputation for hands-on classes to help build a career — is a draw, Patrick Sullivan, Director of SAIT’s International Centre says students who come from around the world benefit not only from the 90 per cent graduate employment rate, but also the opportunity to be part of a community.
“We are transforming students at many levels. They not only walk out with the applied technical skills to set them on the career path, but if they participate in activities with diverse student groups, they come out a different person,” he says.
“When they graduate, they are fully developed as a professional.”
And with graduation comes a wealth of job opportunities, thanks to SAIT’s alignment to industry and applied learning programs.
An applied education is exactly what Hector Flores was looking for when he was looking to emigrate from Mexico to further his studies. With two degrees already under his belt and a young family, Flores chose to study new media production at SAIT.
“I was looking for something more practical, something more hands on,” says Flores. “SAIT is the best option in that area.”
After graduation, Flores worked as a project manager in their creative agency, immediately putting his knowledge to work in his field.
Employers look at whether students have gone to SAIT and place a high value on the institution, says Flores.
“All employers value SAIT students for their work ethic. These are students who are trained hands on — they are set to start working on day one.”
Among the reasons graduates find work quickly is SAIT’s close ties to industry. SAIT works hand-in-hand with industry to ensure courses offer the latest in skills and technology.
“Whatever program you take, you know your education is going to be in demand,” says the International Centre’s Sullivan. “Our connections to industry ensure that.”
Job opportunities are another reason students from outside of Canada choose SAIT. That relationship with industry adds to students’ employment prospects upon graduation, says Sullivan.
Since international students with Canadian credentials and work experience can apply for permanent residency, SAIT can be part of that journey.
“Students see multiple opportunities to get an education that is industry aligned and find a pathway to remain in Canada permanently,” says Sullivan.
Thomson Zhang moved to Calgary from China to study English and when it was time to pick an institution to help him build a career and life here, SAIT was the best choice.
The number of quality programs and the beautiful campus set in the heart of Calgary were both factors in Zhang’s decision — as was SAIT’s outstanding reputation, in Alberta and around the globe.
“Everyone knows SAIT,” says Zhang.
Once enrolled, Zhang welcomed the hands-on learning opportunities and chance to meet with industry employers — both things, he says, which helped him with his career.
“They pack a lot of information into the two-year program,” he says.
“There were lots of opportunities to practice the theory and knowledge learned in the classroom through work in the labs we had every week.”
He also praised how the program stayed on top of industry developments, ensuring students were always learning the most up-to-date skills.
With his electronic engineering technology diploma, Zhang works as an electronics service technician, repairing phones, computers and small electronic devices. He found work shortly after graduating in 2019 from the two-year program.
Along with a strong education, Zhang left SAIT with a tight-knit group of friends he made in his program — ones he continues to spend time with.
He attributes part of his success to the support he received from the International Centre and its staff who guided him through his two years at SAIT.
“I’m very thankful to the centre,” he says.
“They actually care about international students.”
Story by Gwendolyn Richards