Ottawa’s new restrictions create dilemma for international students

Jan 25, 2024 | International News, News

Many international students are rethinking their academic plans for Canada after Immigration Minister Marc Miller put a cap on international study visas and post-graduation work permits.

Miller said increased interest rates and a growing number of international students are related to one another.

“It isn’t immigrants that raised interest rates, but volume is volume and it’s something that we need to look at,” he said.

Miller said the issue is not solely the number of students, but the system too.

“We need to be doing our jobs and making sure that we have a system that actually makes sure people have a financial capability to come to Canada, that we’re actually verifying offer letters,” he said.

This act will also impact the chances of getting a work permit for an international student who will be graduating from public-private college partnerships.

“It is not the intention of this program to have sham commerce degrees and business degrees that are sitting on top of a massage parlour,” Miller said.

Colleges Ontario issued a statement where they unhappily addressed the changes made by the government for international students.

“We believe this blunt approach does not adequately consider the talent needs of the province of Ontario and does not consider the many thousands of students who will now be left in limbo with their hopes on hold,” the provincial ministry said.

Andrew Ness, dean of international education at Humber College, said he does not want to comment on the issue as the story is still developing.

“I’m not prepared to make any statements at present as the information coming from the federal government is evolving very quickly, as are the resulting conditions and requirements,” Ness said.

Joseph Wong, vice president of international and professor at the U of T’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, said the university respects the changes made in the system by the government.

“We appreciate the changes announced today are focused on addressing abuses in the system by particular actors and are not intended to adversely impact universities such as ours,” Wong said.

While universities are working in tandem with the government’s statement, prospective students are disheartened.

Khushbu Khajuria, a 26-year-old content writer from India with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, had plans to come to Canada for her masters in the upcoming Fall.

She says she is now rethinking her plans.

“Minister Miller’s statement has certainly raised concerns for me,” Khajuria said. “My friends studying in Canada have told me about high unemployment rates, expensive housing and a relatively low minimum wage compared to other foreign destinations.”

She said she is now considering alternative study destinations that may offer a more favourable environment for academic and personal growth.

Bhavya Sharma, a 26-year-old from India who has a bachelor’s degree in English, planned to move to Canada this year to pursue journalism and build a career in the field.

She said she now feels Canada may not be her best option.

“I feel there is too much uncertainty going on with the immigration right now and I don’t think it’s worth the hassle,” Sharma said. “I have crucial years of education ahead of me, and I want everything to sort out first.”

Mridul Sharma, a 17-year-old who is currently in Grade 12 and not related to Bhavya, wanted to come to Canada to study business, but due to the international changes, he doesn’t believe he can pursue his dream.

“The increased GIC amount will put a financial strain on my family and moreover, if I will not get a work permit after completing my studies then I feel education will be of no use if I cannot work and put my knowledge and skills to any use,” Sharma said.