International students are a vital part of Canada’s social and economic fabric, enriching communities and contributing to cultural diversity. However, recent surges in enrollment have raised concerns about system integrity, with some institutions prioritising revenue over student support and rapid growth placing pressure on infrastructure.
Introducing a Temporary Intake Cap: Stabilising Growth for Sustainability
To address these concerns and ensure sustainable growth, the Government of Canada is implementing a two-year intake cap on new international student permits. This measure, announced by Immigration Minister Marc Miller, aims to stabilise enrollment at approximately 360,000 in 2024, a 35% decrease from 2023.
Fairness and Flexibility: Tailored Provincial Caps and Exemptions
The cap is implemented with fairness in mind. Individual provincial and territorial caps are established, weighted by population, to address areas with the most significant growth. Study permit renewals, master’s and doctoral programmes, and elementary and secondary education remain unaffected. Furthermore, current study permit holders are not impacted.
Collaboration and Transparency: A Shared Responsibility
To implement the cap effectively, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will allocate quotas to provinces and territories, who will then distribute them among designated learning institutions. Each application submitted to IRCC after January 22nd, 2024, will require an attestation letter from the relevant province or territory, ensuring a transparent and collaborative process. These temporary measures will be reassessed at the end of 2024, paving the way for a long-term, sustainable approach.
Strengthening the Post-Graduation Work Permit Programme: Aligning Opportunities with Expectations
Changes are also made to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Programme (PGWP) to better align with programme objectives. Effective September 1st, 2024, graduates of programmes under curriculum licencing agreements will no longer be eligible for PGWP. These programmes, often lacking public college oversight, have seen concerning growth and represent a potential loophole.
Enhanced Support for Master’s Graduates: Extending Opportunities for Career Development
To enhance post-graduate opportunities, master’s degree graduates will soon be eligible for a 3-year PGWP, recognising their specific needs and extending their time to gain valuable work experience and potentially pursue permanent residency.
Targeted Open Work Permits: Prioritising Spouses in Advanced Programmes
Open work permits, allowing spouses of international students to work freely, will be available only to spouses of those enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs. This focuses support on higher-level programmes while addressing concerns about potential misuse.
Building a Sustainable Future: Comprehensive Reforms for a Thriving International Student System
These measures complement recent reforms to the International Student Programme, emphasising genuine student experiences and system integrity. Together, they aim to:
- Ensure international students receive the support they deserve.
- Provide resources for a successful and enriching Canadian study experience.
- Stabilise overall student intake.
- Alleviate pressure on housing, healthcare, and other services.
By working together, Canada can ensure a thriving international student system that benefits all, fostering vibrant communities while upholding the programme’s integrity and sustainability.
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