An Indian agent at the time told us she believed fraudulent loans to suggest adequate funds for financial stability while in Canada were common “especially with Canada being so much less regulated for student visas”.
There were murmurs of family and financial pressures on international students whose primary aim was to earn money while studying and be able to access the Post-graduate Work Program so they were also eligible to stay and work full-time after their studies.
Rapid growth in private colleges teaching licensed public college curriculum, in some cases in small cramped colleges with truncated teaching hours of two or three days per week, was also called out in a TV documentary expose, The Fifth Estate, aired in 2022.
A concern that PR was the ultimate end goal for many had also been raised by international student policy hawk Earl Blaney, who also featured in the Fifth Estate documentary.
So the news of a cap on new permits for international students – effective immediately – and cessation of access to PGWP from September for any students in private college partnership programs, while feeling like a shock, did not come out of the blue.
A policy tweak late last year of an increase in the level of funds that students needed to evidence was not enough. Sharp concerns about adequate accommodation and poor student experience, especially in downtown metropolitan areas, was growing. This week, the government announced a swift reset of its international student program.
“Plenty of people I spoke to this week believe the long-term outcome will be positive”
There is still a lot to be clarified, such as how many students each province can admit, and how they will designate which institutions can recruit to that cap. There will be upheaval, professional pivots and financial uncertainty – but Canada is not closing its doors and notably, settings for masters and PhD students are not impacted.
Stakeholders in India are considering how the news will be seen by students. But plenty of people I spoke to this week – because this has been the talking point – believe the long-term outcome will be positive. As one commentator in our first story of the week suggested, “Our sector has a chance to rethink itself and improve the academic offerings.”
About the author: Amy Baker is CEO and Managing Director of The PIE News.