New Delhi: Canada has announced a temporary cap on the number of new study permits issued to international students for the next two years, citing concerns over the quality and integrity of the education system.
The cap, which will take effect from January 1, 2024, will reduce the number of new study visas by 35 percent compared to 2023, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said on Monday. This means that only about 364,000 new study permits will be approved in 2024, down from 560,000 in 2023.
The cap will vary by province, based on their population size and the impact of the influx of international students on their housing and labor markets. Some provinces, such as Ontario and British Columbia, will face a cut of more than 50 percent in their new study permits, while others, such as Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island, will have some room to increase their intake.
The decision comes amid a surge in the number of international students in Canada, which reached a record high of over one million in 2023, according to a report by The Globe and Mail. India was the largest source country, accounting for 37 percent of all international students, followed by China with 22 percent and France with 6 percent.
Miller said the cap was necessary to ensure that the international students who come to Canada receive the quality of education that they deserve and that they were promised in their home countries. He said the government had taken several measures in recent months to tighten the integrity controls within the student visa program, such as cracking down on fraudulent agents, bogus colleges, and visa mills.
He also said the cap was aimed at addressing the challenges posed by the large influx of international students in the housing and labor markets, especially in the urban areas where most of them settle. He said the government was working with the provinces and territories, as well as the education sector, to find ways to better distribute and integrate international students across the country.
“We value the contribution of international students to our economy, our society, and our culture. They enrich our classrooms, our communities, and our country. But we also have a responsibility to ensure that they receive the best possible education and that they are not exploited by unscrupulous actors. That is why we are taking this balanced and responsible approach to manage the growth of our international student population,” Miller said.