Home Politics Two post-secondary organizations express ‘significant concern’ over international student cap

Two post-secondary organizations express ‘significant concern’ over international student cap

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Two organizations representing 234 post-secondary institutions have written a letter expressing “significant concern” about the federal government’s decision to cap the number of student permits for the next two years.

The letter, addressed to Immigration Minister Marc Miller, was written by Colleges and Institutes Canada and Universities Canada.

The organizations say the cap “has the potential to bring about widespread and long-lasting consequences for both Canadian and international students.”

In its announcement last week, the federal government said it will approve approximately 360,000 undergraduate study permits for 2024 — a 35 per cent reduction from 2023.

The intent, according to Miller, is to cut down on the “hundreds” of schools operating in Canada that accept large amounts of international students but allegedly operate under-resourced campuses.

In order to implement the cap, the federal government also announced that, starting Jan. 22, every study permit application submitted to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) must also include an attestation letter from a province or territory.

Ottawa is demanding that all provinces and territories establish a process to issue those letters to students by March 31.

The organizations claim that enrolment has already been affected as provinces and territories build their systems and try to navigate the newly-imposed requirement. Because of that, the letter says, eligible students are being held up from obtaining study permits.

The two organizations are asking Ottawa to pause the requirement for a letter of attestation until “at least March 31st or until the provinces establish an effective process.”

“Faced with uncertainty, these students are likely to choose alternative destinations, posing a significant risk to Canada’s post-secondary sector and hindering our efforts to attract global talent for years to come,” the joint letter reads.

A spokesperson for Miller declined to comment on the letter.

Most international students not at universities

New data released by the federal government shows that about one-third of international students in Canada were studying at universities.

Of about 981,000 valid study permit holders, about 336,000 were studying at institutions accredited by Universities Canada, according to a response to an order paper question by Conservative MP Tim Uppal. Of those, nearly 130,000 were in postgraduate studies.

The order paper also requested data from IRCC on the number of international students studying at institutions accredited by the National Association of Career Colleges.

IRCC said it does not track that data.

In their letter on Tuesday, the two organizations asked for “urgent consultations” with the sector to “modify the cap policy, clarify the many outstanding questions and mitigate the negative impacts.”

“The global reputation of Canada as a top education destination is at stake, and careful consideration is crucial to prevent lasting consequences,” the letter concludes.

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