Updated CICan statement on comments regarding a potential cap on international student enrollment by federal officials

Ottawa, January 17, 2024 –Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) today updated its statement, originally published on August 22, 2023, in response to comments regarding a potential cap on international student enrolment by federal officials:  

In ongoing discussions around Canada’s affordability challenges, including the housing crisis, the government and public have directed their attention to the role of international students — both the quality of their experience in Canada and the role they play in financing post-secondary education. 

Canada’s public colleges and institutes deeply appreciate international students as integral, valued contributors to our classrooms, communities and economy and recognize their institutional responsibility in welcoming and supporting them. These students are choosing Canada’s public colleges and institutes because we provide quality education, accommodations, and wrap-around support services, including promoting cultural integration and creating nurturing and inclusive environments. 

For many public colleges and institutes, increased international student enrolment over the years has brought much-needed financial support that has helped mitigate decreased provincial funding amid rising operational costs due to inflation, tuition freezes, new training demands, and an increased need for student services. “We acknowledge that this has not been without challenges for institutions, individuals, and communities.  

Any surplus generated from international student growth supports public colleges’ and institutes’ ability to address pressing issues like housing shortages for all students. International students have also helped Canada address skills and labour shortages, revitalize linguistic minority communities, and meet the needs of an aging population as they train to meet local labour market needs.  

The current situation is complex and one of shared responsibility, requiring an integrated approach to solutions that underscore roles and responsibilities across all levels of government and post-secondary institutions. We acknowledge the challenge at hand and recognize the importance of federal and provincial governments urgently coming together to find solutions. 

Any measures taken must avoid unintended consequences on a sector that brings diversity to our communities and significant value to Canada’s economy, more than a $22B annual contribution. Solutions need to recognize regional differences and steer clear of a one-size-fits-all approach, which could be detrimental to those communities that have ample capacity to welcome additional students. 

CICan’s commitment to collaborating with the federal government remains steadfast. We continue to engage in ongoing discussions to develop an approach that would ensure international student outcomes are better aligned with the availability of community and institutional supports, labour market needs, and country diversification to strengthen Canada’s global reach.  

About Colleges and Institutes Canada: 

Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is the national and international voice of Canada’s largest post-secondary education network. It advocates, builds capacity, and drives knowledge to strengthen Canada’s publicly supported colleges, institutes, CEGEPs, and polytechnics. With more than 95% of Canadians living within 50 km of a member institution, and thanks to its extensive reach around the globe, CICan works to future-proof communities in Canada and abroad. 

We respectfully acknowledge that CICan’s offices in Ottawa are located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation.


For more information:

Katrina King

Senior Digital Communications Officer
Colleges and Institutes Canada
Email: kking@collegesinstitutes.ca
Twitter: @CollegeCan