Province announces new international student rules to preserve ‘integrity’ of Ontario schools, protect learners

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Published January 26, 2024 at 3:32 pm

Students at Algoma University in Brampton held a protest after they say they were intentionally given failing grades. (Photo: Naujawan Support Network via X)

Even more shake-ups to international student regulations are coming to Ontario as the province says it’s bringing in new measures to safeguard students and protect the “integrity” of post-secondary education.

The province said on Friday that new international student regulations and rules are coming for Ontario colleges and universities, just days after the federal government announced a cap on international student admissions.

The new measures include a review of programs offered by postsecondary institutions that have a large number of international students, a moratorium on new public college-private partnerships, and a requirement that all colleges and universities “have a guarantee that housing options are available for incoming international students.”

Career colleges will also see more provincial oversight under the new measures and “integrate enforcement efforts” for enhanced data management, documentation and compliance investigations.

Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop says the changes stem from a wide range of issues, including a spike in accepted students, predatory practices by recruiters and inadequate housing options.

“We must find more ways to work together to combat gross recruitment practices while protecting our ability to attract the world’s best and brightest to study here in Ontario,” Dunlop said in a statement.

On top of adding more protections for schools and students, the changes would also help ease Ontario’s housing supply and affordability issues by ensuring that students coming to study in Canada have a place to live.

Linking approved international student applications to housing is something Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown has been calling for, saying the requirement would better protect both students from unsafe conditions and the government for fraudsters.

Many economists agree that capping the number of new study permits issued may help moderate rent price inflation, however the degree to which it could ease rental prices is unclear.

The province’s update is just the latest in a series of changes for schools and international students as Ottawa more than doubled the cost-of-living requirement for international study permit applicants from $10,000 to $20,635 in December.

Statistics from Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Canada show there were more than 1 million international students on active study permits in Canada last year, making for a 27 per cent increase over 2022, according to reports.

The feds say the two-year cap introduced earlier this week is expected to drop international student admissions in Ontario by 50 per cent or more and a 35 per cent reduction Canada-wide.

Ontario brought together a panel of experts in March for advice on keeping the post-secondary sector “financially stable and focused on providing the best student experience possible,” with the province saying it is still evaluating the recommendations.

The push to overhaul Canada’s international student program comes after hundreds of international students were facing deportation in June in the fallout of an admissions scandal.

A Brampton food bank also made headlines after turning away international students cutting into their supply for those in need like seniors, refugees and people with disabilities, and dozens of students at Brampton’s Algoma University campus recently protested for days saying they were “intentionally” failed by one professor.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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