Sector says “Canada is open” in spite of the cap on study permits.

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Posted on February 23, 2024


3 min read

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Sector leaders are optimistic about Canada’s long-term positioning as a friendly country for immigrants and students, despite the fact that the short-term adaptations to the country’s legislative changes may be difficult.

It’s no secret that Canada has experienced an exponential increase in the number of international students applying to study there in recent years, posing a number of “growing pains and challenges,” as CBIE President and CEO Larissa Bezo put it.

Bezo admits that there are issues that need to be resolved, such as dishonest actors, but she also says that things “weren’t out of control” before the student immigration cap was announced. She maintained that the majority of institutions are already making every effort to deal with unscrupulous actors, and that these recently imposed “blunt measures” don’t directly address the problem.

On February 21, an IRCC town hall addressed a number of previously unidentified topics, including visitation and exchange student policies as well as the rights of spouses to work.

Bezos declared, “This is not how we would have chosen to address these sustainability issues.”

However, if we take a bird’s-eye view of the situation, these policy measures give us a chance to be more deliberate and strategic in order to guarantee a long-term sustainable strategy, the speaker said.

According to Bezo, CBIE sees this as a chance to recalibrate where necessary and anticipates a “whole-sector” approach.

Languages Canada’s executive director, Gonzalo Peralta, said that “things were out of control.” It was necessary to take action. He was left wondering, though, “what happened” to the sector-wide conversations with people like former deputy minister Christiane Fox.

Peralta reported that “amazing conversations” were being held with the aim of revealing Canada’s long-term immigration plan.

Peralta summarized his dissatisfaction with the most recent measures by saying, “It’s not the what, it’s the how.” Languages Canada has been pushing for changes to the measures so that all language school students can be exempt.

The IRCC did make clear that exchange students could apply for a longer-term study permit within Canada and be excluded from the cap if they were staying for six months or less.

“We value the IRCC’s endeavors to attain more enduring expansion and to tackle program integrity,” stated Alain Roy, vice president for global collaborations at Colleges and Institutes Canada.

However, we have always opposed a hard cap because of the difficulties in putting one into place.

Roy emphasized how many students have been forced to postpone their plans until provinces determine their allocation, when considering the impact on students who have their sights set on Canada and are applying for a spring or autumn semester.

According to Roy, such ramifications can cause students to have a “negative perception” of Canada.

The IRCC reported that Immigration Minister Marc Miller has now notified each province and territory of their cap allotment through letter. Roy, however, is optimistic that the industry will remain “resilient and agile” over the long run, pointing to its capacity to recover from the harm caused by the Covid-19 outbreak and provincial funding cuts.

He assured the crowd, “We’ll overcome this as well,” noting that the value of a Canadian education has not changed in terms of both price and quality.

Although Roy acknowledged that the announcement and implementation of the caps were not “optimal,” the industry will be forced to innovate.

“I have no doubt that we’ll emerge from this with an even better offer, positioning us to maintain our appeal on a global scale. Canada is still accessible. We welcome students from other countries. We want to avoid sending out that message at all,” Bezo pleaded.