Ontario announces new rules to ‘improve integrity’ for International students

International students. Image credit: Unsplash/ Mimi Thian

Following Marc Miller, Federal Immigration Minister’s announcement of a cap on international study permits earlier last week, the Ford government is reportedly introducing new rules to help improve Canadian colleges’ and universities’ integrity.

According to the announcement,  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) will issue 35 percent fewer visas than last year and would not issue more than 360,000 new visas this year, and keep them at that number for two years.

 Apart from guaranteeing housing options for incoming international students, the new measures by the Ford government include requiring colleges and universities to introduce a moratorium on new public college and private institution partnerships.

Although Miller announced a 35 percent reduction in the number of study permits this year; the number of permits each province is allocated is still to be determined.

Miller was still working with provinces on specific allocations, but Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia were expected to have to make the biggest reductions. Other provinces that were not as aggressive about recruiting could actually be able to increase the number of international students they bring in.

New permits would reportedly be distributed by IRCC weighted to population, but it is yet to be decided by the provinces what approach would be taken by them. 

Provinces with a disproportionately large international student population, including Ontario and British Columbia, are facing a challenging task  since the cap means a drastic reduction in what they’ve received.

International student enrollment in Ontario is by far the largest enrollment numbers could drop by as much as 50 per cent.

With fall admissions already in process, IRCC’s decision to drop international student study permits by 35 percent has panicked Canadian students, advocates, administrators and experts.

Amidst the province’s rolling out its new rules, the Ford Government is being blamed for the current situation.

“When it comes to funding universities and colleges, Ontario is dead last,” read a statement from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation earlier this week. “Ford has deliberately defunded post-secondary education in Ontario for years, creating a situation where universities and colleges were forced to become reliant on international tuition fees as a significant source of revenue.”

Ontario auditor general report of 2022 said the schools in Ontario had become increasingly dependent on tuition fees from international students. Azi Afousi, president of Ontario-based advocacy group College Student Alliance was reported saying that moving to Canada to study isn’t a decision made lightly as it requires planning, coordination and financial commitment.