Canada implements two-year cap on international student admissions

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Canada has announced its decision to implement a cap on the number of foreign students admitted to the country for two years, aimed at alleviating pressure on housing and healthcare within the nation.

Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press

This measure is anticipated to result in a reduction of 35% in approved study permits. Over the past decade, Canada has witnessed a significant increase in the number of foreign students, with figures surging from 214,000 to over 800,000 in 2022. The introduction of these new measures is also intended to safeguard the “integrity” of the system, as per officials.

According to Immigration Minister Marc Miller, the cap was announced on Monday, to approve around 360,000 undergraduate study permits in Canada this year. The allocation of these permits to each province and territory will be based on population size and current student intake. Afterward, the provinces will have the autonomy to distribute these permits among their universities and colleges. It is worth mentioning that the cap will only apply to students who are currently enrolled in diploma or undergraduate programs and will not have any effect on students who are applying for study permit renewals. Additionally, starting in September, the government will no longer issue work permits to students who have completed their studies at colleges that operate under a public-private partnership model, which is mainly seen in the province of Ontario.

Furthermore, Minister Miller highlighted the importance of addressing situations in which private institutions may be taking advantage of international students. This includes operating campuses that lack necessary resources and student support services, as well as charging excessive tuition fees while simultaneously increasing the number of international students. It is important to note that these measures are not directed at individual international students but rather focused on ensuring that future students receive the education quality they deserve. This announcement aligns with the increasing pressure on the Trudeau government to address the growing affordability crisis in the housing market. The average home prices have reached C$750,000, and there has been a 22% rise in rent for Canadians in the past two years.

Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

Economists have linked this unaffordability issue to the influx of immigrants, as Canada witnessed an unprecedented population growth in 2022, with over a million new residents for the first time in history, a significant portion of which can be attributed to immigrants. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, an estimated 3.5 million additional housing units will be needed by 2030 to restore affordability.

Experts emphasize that in addition to population growth, there are other significant factors contributing to the decline in housing starts. These include high interest rates, increased building material costs due to inflation, and disruptions in the supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to note that this cap represents a significant change from Canada’s previous open immigration policy, which was relied upon to fill job vacancies and address the challenges of an aging workforce. Earlier statements made by Minister Miller about a possible decrease in international student admissions had caused worry among Canadian universities. After Monday’s announcement, Universities Canada expressed their relief that post-graduate students will not be affected by the cap. However, the organization also expressed concern that these measures could add more pressure to an already stretched system and discourage prospective students from selecting Canada as their study location.

McMaster University President, David Farrar, expressed his concerns regarding the potential consequences of implementing a cap on international students. He emphasized the significant value that these students bring to the university’s learning environment. Additionally, Farrar pointed out that the tuition fees paid by international students play a vital role in covering costs for domestic students, considering the limited funding provided by the government and the budget limitations faced by the institution. He warned that imposing a cap on international students would require reducing the number of domestic students admitted, ultimately resulting in a negative impact on the university.

Aalia is a dedicated student currently pursuing a degree in Communication Studies at the university. When she’s not writing, she loves listening to music and writing novels. Aalia’s journey is a harmonious blend of education, creativity, and the art of communication.