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CSA Responds to International Student Cap

On January 22nd, 2024 the Honourable Marc Miller, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced three new policies regulating current and future international students that seek “to protect a system that has become so lucrative that is has opened a path for its abuse” and to strike “the right balance for Canada and [ensure] the integrity of our immigration system while setting students up for the success they hope for” (IRCC, 2024). 


These new federal policies, outlined in the section below, have the potential to negatively impact Ontario's college students and institutions if the Ontario government does not step up and make subsequent funding and other structural changes. We want to remind the Ontario government of the importance of the Blue Ribbon Panel recommendations. As referenced by the Panel, Ontario’s colleges and universities are functionally dependent on the funds from international student tuition as a result of provincial underfunding. This, along with other contributing factors, has created an unsustainable and unstable post-secondary sector dependent on international student enrolment. Ontario’s postsecondary sector is the only Canadian jurisdiction facing this level of uncertainty. 


The Ontario government needs to act on the recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Panel. With the number of international students set to decrease by roughly 50% in the province, Ontario’s colleges will require substantially more provincial funding to remain solvent and conduct their integral academic and student support services. 


One offs and short-term solutions cannot solve the broader financial sustainability issue facing Ontario’s colleges, nor can they protect or adequately prepare international students, which is of utmost importance. CSA strongly calls on all levels of government to work cooperatively to find integrated solutions to these multifaceted challenges that are informed by the student perspective. 


CSA also continues to engage in outreach to all Ontario colleges to gather the international student perspective on these, and other changes, through our related survey found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YKHBXS6


The New Policies (IRCC, 2024)


  1. A temporary 2 year cap on new international student permits; the introduction of a national application intake cap for 2 years. 

    1. The 2024 cap should result in 364,000 approved study permits. 

    2. This is a decrease of 35% from 2023. The cap is allocated by province, based on population. Such that some provinces will see much more significant reductions- Ontario is slated to see a 50% reduction in the number of international students. Provinces and territories are responsible for distributing the cap among their DLI’s. The cap will not apply to students at the Master and Doctorate/PhD level.

  2. As of September 1st this year, Post-Graduation Work Permits will no longer be available to public-private institution models. 

    1. Students who begin a study program that is part of a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit upon graduation. These private-public college programs have less oversight and “act as a loophole with regards to post-graduation work permit eligibility”.

    2. Graduates of Master’s and other short graduate-level programs will soon be eligible to apply for a 3-year work permit, recognizing that current criteria hinders the amount of time graduate level students have to gain work experience and potentially transition to permanent residence. 

  3. Open Work Permits will only be available to the spouses of international students enrolled in Master and Doctorate/PhD programs, as well as in professional programs like medicine and law. Spouses of students in other levels of study will no longer be eligible. 


References


Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada. (2024). Canada to stabilize growth and

decrease number of new international student permits issued to approximately 

360,000 for 2024. Government of Canada, retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/

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