In response to the burgeoning influx of international students, British Columbia, a prominent Canadian province, has recently taken decisive measures to freeze approvals for new colleges enrolling international students until February 2026. This move aligns with broader national strategies, with Canada, just a week prior, announcing plans to impose a temporary cap on the intake of foreign students. The aim is to address pressing concerns regarding housing shortages and escalating rents attributed to the steady rise in the international student population.
Stricter Standards on the Horizon
British Columbia is not merely hitting pause; it is also gearing up for an overhaul in standards. The province is set to implement stringent measures, including heightened language proficiency requirements at private training institutions and elevated benchmarks concerning labor market needs and degree quality.
Federal Intervention: A Two-Year Cap
The federal government, in tandem with provincial initiatives, has imposed a two-year cap on new international student permits. This initiative is poised to reduce the country’s intake by 35% in 2026, bringing it down to approximately 360,000. Complementing this, modifications to work permits for select students are also in the works.
Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, emphasized the significance of international students while unveiling these measures: “International students are vital to Canada and enrich our communities. As such, we should ensure that they have access to the resources they need for an enriching academic experience. In Canada, today, this isn’t always the case. Today, we are announcing additional measures to protect a system that has become so lucrative that it has opened a path for its abuse. Enough is enough.”
Concerns and Countermeasures
Canada has witnessed a remarkable surge in its international student population, reaching approximately 1 million study permit holders by the end of the previous year—an astounding threefold increase over the past decade. With this growth, concerns about housing shortages and rent spikes have intensified. The allure of Canada for international students lies not only in its academic offerings but also in the ease of obtaining work permits after completing courses.
In response to this heightened demand, Canada has implemented additional checks in its study permit applications. A crucial change took effect on January 1, 2024, adjusting the cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants to more accurately reflect the true cost of living in Canada. This modification aims to prevent student vulnerability and exploitation.
Moreover, since December 1, 2023, post-secondary designated learning institutions have been mandated to directly confirm every letter of acceptance submitted by an applicant outside Canada with IRCC (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada). This enhanced verification process not only safeguards prospective students from fraud but also ensures that study permits are issued solely based on authentic letters of acceptance.
Stay tuned for an insightful exploration of this dynamic shift in British Columbia’s approach to hosting international students.