Ottawa, January 22, 2024 – Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) issued a statement in response to today’s announcement by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) regarding the Government’s decision to impose an intake cap on international student permit applications in 2024.
CICan appreciates IRCC’s efforts to address the pressing challenges confronting Canada and to work with the provinces and their institutions to safeguard the integrity of our International Student Program, a goal around which we are all united.
However, we are concerned about the potential ramifications this decrease – and its rollout – will have on current and prospective international students, Canadians, their communities, and the country. This approach, characterized by Minister Miller as a “blunt instrument,” will have far-reaching consequences across the sector, especially in key regions, including the possibility of layoffs, closures and increased tuition fees – all of which will inevitably affect both Canadian and international students.
Such measures also pose a potential risk to Canada’s hard-earned reputation and global brand as a go-to destination for post-secondary education, generating uncertainty and worry among both current and prospective international students. It is, therefore, imperative that these changes be implemented with care, and in collaboration with provinces, their post-secondary institutions and their associations to avoid significant system disruption and negatively affecting – over the long-term – international students’ perceptions of Canada.
CICan underscores additional concern regarding IRCC’s rationale to only exclude individuals pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees from the cap. While the Minister rightfully acknowledges the imperative of addressing the labour market demands in our economy, this particular decision fails to acknowledge the vital role college and institute programs play in meeting labour market needs and driving economic growth right across the country, particularly in high-demand sectors such as skilled trades, including construction and manufacturing, food services, technology and healthcare. Additionally, many international students currently enrolled in colleges and institutes are pursuing post-graduate programs to enhance previously acquired degrees earned in their home country and align them with Canadian qualifications.
Given the impact on public colleges and institutes across Canada, CICan reiterates the urgent need for increased provincial investment in their public postsecondary systems to sustain colleges’ and institutes’ capacity to meet students’, community’s, and employers’ needs. Chronic public underinvestment in post-secondary education puts Canada’s world-class system at risk. Without significant reinvestment, we risk compounding the challenges facing Canada’s economy and society, especially in the context of fierce global competition.
Lastly, CICan emphasizes the importance of focusing on the long-term outlook of international education in Canada. While caps may be a temporary measure, collective efforts should aim to maintain Canada’s resilient and globally competitive education sector, which contributes more than $22B annually to Canada’s economy. International students fundamentally enhance campus diversity (in large urban centres and rural and remote communities), contribute to our skilled workforce, and address the high-demand skills and labour market needs in regions right across the country.
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.
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