Canada has long been a welcoming home for international students who come to pursue their dreams of quality education and a better future. These students contribute significantly to Canada’s economy and cultural diversity.
Despite the many benefits they bring, there are challenges within the international student program that require addressing.
The recent report issued by Canadian Senate members sheds light on these challenges and offers recommendations for enhancing the international student experience in the country.
The report emphasizes,
“While the Canadian government is being forthright about the highly competitive nature of the permanent residence application process, it could do more to be forthright about the immigration benefits of studying in Canada.”Canadian Senate Report
Let’s explore the major recommendations outlined in the report, which aim to create a more supportive and enriching environment for international students:
Canadian Senate Report Recommendations
Ensuring Financial Sustainability of Learning Institutions (DLIs)
- Conduct a national review of DLIs’ financial sustainability: This involves evaluating the ability of educational institutions to remain financially robust, even in the face of “fluctuations in international student enrollments.”
- Why it matters: Financially stable institutions can provide a more consistent and high-quality educational experience to international students.
If there are any future downward “shifts in global international student trends” away from Canada, or if there are any “diplomatic disputes” that reduce international student enrollment in this country, Canada could be negatively impacted.
Greater Oversight on DLIs, Including Private Colleges
- Implement increased oversight on DLIs: This oversight is intended to ensure that institutions across the country consistently work towards providing international students with a “positive on- and off-campus experience.”
- Encourage DLIs to assist international students: DLIs should actively help international students find suitable housing and employment opportunities, and address other settlement challenges such as mental health.
- Why it matters: Oversight and support can result in pro-student policies and a safer, more supportive environment for students from all over the world.
According to the Senate report,
“DLIs that do not meet the standard should be subject to losing their ability to welcome additional international students.”Senate report
Raising Awareness Among International Students
- Improve information dissemination about PGWP-eligible programs: Many international students aspire to obtain “Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWPs) and permanent residence after graduation.” Clear information about which programs are eligible for PGWPs is crucial.
- Why it matters: Informed decisions lead to better post-graduation prospects and reduced disappointments among students.
Addressing the Housing Supply for International Students
- Acknowledging the housing shortage: There is a growing demand for suitable housing for international students. Adequate measures should be taken to address this issue.
- Federal support for affordable housing: The federal government can play a role in ensuring that postsecondary institutions have the resources to develop affordable housing options for foreign students.
- Why it matters: Affordable and available housing is essential for international students’ well-being and academic success.
Enhancing International Students’ Understanding of Legal Rights
- Educate students about their rights: Both DLIs and the Canadian government should provide comprehensive information to international students regarding their rights related to housing, employment, and protection against abuse.
- Why it matters: Awareness of their rights empowers these students to address issues and protects them from potential exploitation.
Developing a National Policy for Temporary to Permanent Resident Paths
- Create a national strategy: A clear national policy can help international students understand the realities of obtaining Canadian permanent residency, including the limited number of available spots.
- Why it matters: Realistic expectations and guidance can prevent disappointment among international students and help them plan their futures more effectively.
Implementing a National Policy on International Student Settlement Assistance
- Benefits of settlement assistance: Providing comprehensive settlement assistance to international students benefits both the students and the country. It can lead to better care, address issues raised earlier in the report, and prepare them for life as permanent Canadian residents.
- Why it matters: Effective settlement assistance can result in a smoother transition for international students and better integration into Canadian society.
Standardizing Admission Requirements for DLIs
- Nationwide linguistic standard: Standardizing how DLIs convey admission standards can reduce uncertainty among international students, enhancing their academic and overall success.
- Why it matters: Clear admission standards make the transition to Canadian education smoother for students.
Streamlining the Letter of Admission (LOA) Verification Process
- Strengthen LOA verification: A robust verification process for Letters of Admission (LOAs) “enhances the integrity of the international student program.”
- Leveraging technology: Utilizing current technology can expedite this process, saving resources and ensuring the accuracy of LOAs.
- Why it matters: A streamlined and reliable LOA verification process benefits both students and institutions.
Amending Immigration Regulations to Regulate Education Agents
- Regulatory reforms: Reforms to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) can introduce federal policies to regulate the conduct of overseas education agents.
- Stronger penalties: “Stronger penalties, such as fines and revocation of DLI status, should be considered for those who violate new policy measures.”
- Why it matters: Regulating education agents can protect foreign students from unscrupulous practices and ensure ethical conduct.
Further Regulations on International Student Tuition
- Increased regulations: Consider additional regulations, particularly concerning tuition fee increases for international students.
- Reducing reliance on fees: These regulations should aim to reduce DLIs’ dependence on international student fees to cover operational costs.
- Why it matters: Fair tuition practices make education more accessible and affordable for international students.
Enhancing Education Agent Restrictions and Sanctions
- Emulating successful models: Provinces and territories should follow the example of Manitoba’s International Education Act, which outlines measures to govern behavior and penalties for poor conduct by education agents.
- Why it matters: Stricter regulations and sanctions deter unethical behavior and protect the interests of foreign students.
No Cap on International Students
Importantly, the report clarifies that there will be no cap on international student numbers in Canada, ensuring a welcoming environment for students from around the world.
Canada values its international students and aims to enhance their experience. These recommendations, if implemented, can lead to a more supportive and enriching environment for those seeking education in the Great White North. International students can look forward to a brighter future in Canada with these potential improvements.
Canada is committed to ensuring that foreign students receive the support and opportunities they need to thrive in the country while contributing to its growth and diversity. The implementation of these recommendations will make Canada an even more attractive and inclusive destination for international education.