As pressure from international students mounts, Canada intends a college crackdown

The government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is implementing additional measures to enhance college standards in response to criticism that the country’s education sector is burdening housing and the labor market with an excessive influx of international students.

On Friday, Immigration Minister Marc Miller reportedly unveiled a framework that will require colleges and universities to establish a more rigorous criterion for the provision of services, support, and results for international students, commencing with the fall 2024 academic term.

Miller stated that priority will be given to schools that satisfy the higher standard in the processing of student visas; one of the criteria for this will be adequate housing.

He added that beginning December 1, institutions will be required to validate each applicant’s acceptance letter directly with the Canadian government.

Following allegations that hundreds of Indian immigrants arrived in Canada undetected with forged letters of college admission, he explained that the procedure was intended to combat fraud.

Additionally, Miller’s department will implement reforms to the post-graduate work permit program in the coming months to ensure that it continues to meet the demands of the labor market.

Bloomberg reports that the proposal is in response to mounting concerns that Canadian academic institutions depend excessively on international students for financial support. Foreign students are billed an average of five times the tuition charged to Canadian students.

In Brampton, Ontario, a Toronto suburb where Miller made his announcement on Friday, colleges catering to foreigners have sprouted in strip centers and temporary structures. Miller stated at a news conference, “We are aware that through the years, postsecondary education has been consistently underfunded, particularly by provinces; institutions have been astute and adapted to this.” “International students have at times been subjected to opportunistic fees to close a gap that is completely unnatural and has no place in a country like Canada.” As revenue-generating provincial funding has decreased from 42% in 2001 to 35% last year, postsecondary institutions have become more dependent on tuition fees.

Ontario, the largest province in Canada, has similarly implemented a three-year moratorium on tuition fees that can be levied against Canadian citizens. Foreign students financed 37% of university tuition in Canada from 2019 to 2020 and an estimated 68% of college tuition in Ontario in 2021.

Conversely, numerous international students utilize college enrollment as a means to obtain permanent residency in Canada. Miller discredited the notion of imposing a limitation on international student visas on Friday, whereas Trudeau’s administration had previously considered doing so. Over 800,000 foreign students were enrolled in Canada last year, a figure that has more than tripled in the past decade.

Miller stated that the establishment of a visa cap would not allow the federal government to “stomp in and pretend it has all the answers” due to the complexity of the experiences of international students.

While fraud was identified and the application was denied in the majority of instances, permits were issued in approximately 450 cases. Miller stated that a subsequent investigation determined that while some were legitimate students, others had received fraudulent admission documents inadvertently.