Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, introduced final week that three new measures will strengthen the integrity of Canada’s Worldwide Pupil Program. These measures are to be staged over time, with the primary taking impact earlier than the top of this yr.
As per the federal government’s press launch, the measures are:
- “Beginning February 1, 2024, post-secondary designated studying establishments (DLI) might be required to substantiate each applicant’s letter of acceptance immediately with IRCC. This new, enhanced verification course of goals to guard potential college students from letter‑of‑acceptance fraud and to assist them keep away from comparable issues that some college students confronted earlier this yr because of fraud investigations. It’s going to additionally be certain that research permits are issued primarily based solely on real letters of acceptance.
- In time for the autumn 2024 semester, IRCC will undertake a ‘recognised establishment’ framework to profit post-secondary DLIs that set a better commonplace for providers, assist and outcomes for worldwide college students. These DLIs will profit, for instance, from the precedence processing of research permits for candidates who plan to attend their college.
- Within the coming months, IRCC will full an evaluation of Submit-Commencement Work Allow Program standards and start introducing reforms to higher calibrate it to fulfill the wants of the Canadian labour market, in addition to regional and Francophone immigration targets.”
Breaking it down
The primary new measure, the “enhanced verification course of” geared toward defending potential college students from letter-of-acceptance fraud, goes into impact in only one month’s time. IRCC knowledgeable ICEF Monitor by way of an electronic mail that the division has begun “holding digital coaching classes to information DLIs on learn how to use the brand new IRCC portal and learn how to confirm the letters of acceptance for his or her establishment.” IRCC continued:
“Beginning December 1, all post-secondary designated studying establishments (DLIs) might be required to make use of an enhanced verification answer that may systematically confirm all letters of acceptance for all abroad research allow functions up entrance earlier than research allow functions are assessed. With this new course of, all post-secondary letters of acceptance might be validated by the designated studying establishments (DLIs). This may assist higher defend college students and designated studying establishments from fraud within the system.”
ICEF Monitor additionally reached out to IRCC on the second measure, i.e., the announcement that as of fall 2024, a “recognised establishment” framework might be put into place that accords advantages to Canadian post-secondary establishments deemed to supply “a better commonplace of providers, assist and outcomes for worldwide college students.” IRCC didn’t share particulars of the framework however instructed us that:
“IRCC has consulted with DLIs, provinces and territories, and nationwide schooling associations, and can use the suggestions to refine the deliberate framework as we put together to implement it in time for the autumn 2024 semester … We have now been testing the framework with some DLIs not too long ago, permitting us to refine and enhance the mannequin.”
Canada enrolled a file variety of worldwide college students in 2022 – greater than 800,000 – and has been among the many hottest research overseas locations for the previous 5 years. Nevertheless, this development (+179% since 2013) has not been accompanied by a systemic enlargement of scholar housing or by elevated protections for college students.
The Canadian and worldwide media carried a sequence of tales in 2024 documenting rising circumstances of scholars unable to safe appropriate lodging, brokers submitting fraudulent functions on behalf of scholars, and personal schools accepting extra college students than they might probably serve nicely.
It’s on this context that we will perceive IRCC’s present coverage modifications.
Higher scholar protections imply higher competitiveness
There are additionally indicators that stricter high quality management mechanisms are wanted to maintain Canada aggressive with different locations. A current Studyportals survey measuring 126,000 college students’ satisfaction with their research expertise in numerous international locations discovered Canada trailing the US, UK, Australia, and several other different international locations. On a scale by which 5 was the best stage of satisfaction, the US scored 4.32, the UK reached 4.18, and Australia got here in at 4.13. Canada was final with 4.11 regardless of enchancment in each dimension since 2021.
IDP analysis reveals that Australia drew even with Canada on the finish of summer season 2024 as the most well-liked vacation spot for research overseas. Australia gained two share factors since March 2024 , whereas Canada misplaced two.
A hyperlink to immigration debates?
Together with record-breaking worldwide scholar enrolments in 2022, Canada additionally achieved record-breaking immigration targets. Greater than 430,000 foreign-born folks grew to become everlasting Canadian residents final yr, a quantity not seen, as the federal government notes, since 1913.
The goal of 465,000 immigrants in 2024 is prone to be met – after which some. Some specialists consider the 2024 tally might surpass 525,000, which, if it occurred, would beat not solely the goal set for 2025 (485,000) but additionally 2025 (500,000).
The tempo of immigration is starting to stoke severe debate amongst Canadian economists and the general public at giant. The federal authorities has linked the immigration technique to the power of Canada to fill expertise gaps and to enhance labour pressure productiveness, however in lots of Canadian communities, what’s extra obvious are strains on the healthcare system and a scant provide of inexpensive housing because the variety of new residents rises sharply yearly.
A Nanos polling report launched in September discovered that that 53% of surveyed Canadians favoured a discount within the 2024 immigration goal of 465,000 – up from 34% who felt that method in March 2024 .
Writing in The Globe and Mail, columnist Konrad Yakabuski argues that immigration technique is veering in direction of plugging quick wants within the financial system relatively than attracting the expertise wanted for world competitiveness:
“…the vaunted ‘factors system’ Canadian immigration bureaucrats have relied on since 1967 to pick candidates (primarily based on schooling, expertise, work expertise and proficiency in no less than one official language) is more and more being bypassed in favour of short-term labour-market calls for, principally in low-wage sectors.”
One of many three factors outlined by IRCC Minister Miller in his announcement about reforms to Canada’s Worldwide Pupil Program relates on to the hyperlink between worldwide college students and immigration targets:
“Within the coming months, IRCC will full an evaluation of Submit-Commencement Work Allow Program standards and start introducing reforms to higher calibrate it to fulfill the wants of the Canadian labour market, in addition to regional and Francophone immigration targets.”
A significant sector that should be protected
In Canada, worldwide college students make up a a lot bigger share of the full post-secondary scholar inhabitants than within the US. American increased schooling establishments enrol simply over 1 million worldwide college students out of a complete enrolment of 16.2 million. In Canada, practically 800,000 college students of a complete full-time post-secondary enrolment of simply over 2 million college students are worldwide.
The Canadian post-secondary system is subsequently extremely depending on worldwide college students, and the Canadian financial system can be nicely served by their presence. As per the October 2023 IRCC press launch:
“Worldwide schooling accounts for greater than CDN$22 billion in financial exercise yearly, higher than Canada’s exports of auto components, lumber or plane, and helps greater than 200,000 jobs in Canada. The short-term drop in worldwide college students in 2020 resulted in a lack of greater than CDN$7 billion for Canada’s gross home product that yr.”
Australia can be tightening insurance policies
Australia, which enrolled extra worldwide college students than Canada did earlier than the pandemic and which shortly recovered its overseas enrolment as soon as borders reopened, can be introducing insurance policies aimed to enhance the integrity of its worldwide schooling sector.
A not too long ago launched parliamentary report requested the federal government to urgently tackle the brief provide of scholar housing within the nation and to establish and penalise unscrupulous establishments and brokers recruiting worldwide college students.
The federal government has additionally closed loopholes within the scholar visa system that have been encouraging some visa candidates to use as real college students after which transition shortly away from research and into the workforce.
The Australian authorities’s intention is “to make sure the integrity of one in all our largest exports.” In each Australia and Canada, there seems to be a rising acknowledgement on the prime ranges of presidency of the large significance of worldwide schooling to the nationwide financial system and to immigration targets on the whole.