A two-year limit on student permits
A two-year limit on student permits
The federal government has introduced a two-year restriction on student permits, a measure aimed at curbing the issuance of international student permits in response to the ongoing housing shortage. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller disclosed this decision during a press conference in Montreal, coinciding with a three-day retreat of the Trudeau cabinet. With the explicit intention of addressing institutional “bad actors” within the education sector, Miller highlighted concerns about the escalating impact of growing numbers of international students on the housing market.
The government has specified its approval of approximately 360,000 undergraduate study permits for the year 2024, marking a significant 35% reduction compared to the previous year. Each province and territory will be allocated a share of the total permits based on their population, a move expected to result in more substantial reductions in regions experiencing unsustainable growth in the international student population.
In some provinces, Miller noted that the total reduction in permits will be approximately 50%. The distribution of permits among universities and colleges within provinces and territories will be left to the discretion of the respective regions. This cap will be effective for a two-year period, with a reassessment of the permit numbers scheduled for the end of the current year
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Miller emphasized that the imposition of the cap is a targeted action against certain small private colleges that have taken advantage of international students. He expressed dissatisfaction with institutions operating under-resourced campuses, lacking student support, charging high tuition fees, and significantly increasing their intake of international students.
In an interview with CBC’s Power & Politics, Miller highlighted the issue of “degree-granting institutions that are giving fake business degrees” to students aiming to stay in Canada. He suggested that there might be “hundreds” of such schools in operation in Canada, a number that has reportedly exploded in recent years.
Miller clarified that these measures are not directed against individual international students but are implemented to ensure the quality of education for future students arriving in Canada. The minister also announced changes to the post-graduation work permit program, including the ineligibility of international students, starting in September, who begin a program as part of a curriculum licensing arrangement.
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Graduates of master’s and other “short graduate-level programs” will soon be able to apply for a three-year work permit, and open work permits will be extended to spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs. These changes follow earlier measures announced by Miller, targeting what he described as “the diploma equivalent of puppy mills.”
Miller acknowledged that the federal government would have preferred provincial governments to take action, considering that post-secondary education is a provincial responsibility in Canada. The new federal rules, primarily focused on some private colleges, may also renew concerns about the level of public funding provided by provincial governments to universities and colleges.
Concerns over the availability of affordable housing have also been raised in response to this announcement. Experts suggest that this move should have been implemented earlier, with some cities experiencing a “massive difference” due to the surge in international students affecting housing markets.
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Housing Minister Sean Fraser, speaking on the matter, emphasized the need to increase housing construction rates in Canada, anticipating that some pressure will be alleviated in communities with large numbers of students.
However, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the situation, emphasizing federal responsibility in granting study permits. NDP critic Jenny Kwan raised concerns that the new cap might negatively impact talented students seeking a better life. Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop acknowledged the existence of bad actors taking advantage of students and emphasized the need to crack down on such practices. Nova Scotia’s department of advanced education stated that the province will assess the impacts of the federal government’s changes once more details, including provincial allocations, are available.
The federal government’s decision to cap the number of student permits over the next two years is part of its response to the housing crisis and the perceived impact of growing international student numbers on the housing market.
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