New cap on international students will cut admissions by half in Ontario

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Published January 22, 2024 at 9:56 am

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Canada is putting a cap on the number of international students coming to study from abroad, a move that is expected to cut admissions in Ontario by half this year.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller says the two-year cap on international student admissions is expected to bring a 35 per cent overall reduction in new study visas in 2024 through some provinces while Ontario will see a drop of 50 per cent or more.

Miller hopes the cap will give the federal and provincial government time to curb a system that he says is taking advantage of high international student tuition while providing, in some cases, a poor education.

The change is the latest of several tweaks to Canada’s international student program that has come under the microscope following an admissions scandal that saw Ottawa issue deportation orders of some 700 international students last year. Most of those deportations were scrapped as many students received fake offers of acceptance without their knowledge from a now-shuttered consulting company in India.

Miller says the government will also bar students in schools that follow a private public model from accessing postgraduate work permits as of Sept. 1.

And in a few weeks, open work permits will only be available for the spouses of students enrolled in masters and doctoral programs, as well as professional programs such as medicine and law.

Other recent changes to the international student program include more than doubling the cost-of-living requirement for Canadian study permit applicants to $20,635 and lengthening the time graduating international students could work in Canada without an employment visa.

In Brampton, the city is also calling on the feds to make secure and safe housing for international students a priority.

The city and Mayor Patrick Brown have been raising the alarm over inadequate living conditions and a lack of housing for international students, and a Brampton food bank also made the decision to turn away international students cutting into their supply for those in need like seniors, refugees and people with disabilities.

Research from the Smart Prosperity Institute showed there were more than 444,000 international students in Ontario in 2023, with those numbers counting for around 54 per cent of all international students in all of Canada and totalling more than all other provinces and territories combined.

The city is also calling for changes to the “Heads and Beds” levy, which sees the province pay municipalities $75 per student in lieu of taxes on behalf of universities and colleges, which it says could bring an additional $117 million to the city every year.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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