Canadian authorities are considering putting new measures in place to protect authentic international students who want to study in the country. The new measures aim to prevent fraud in the International Student Programme (ISP) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) said the changes will limit study permits to students attending institutions designated by provinces and territories.
The proposed changes would address concerns that some institutions are providing poor quality programmes or facilitating, knowingly or not, the entry of foreign nationals to Canada for purposes other than study. Under the proposed amendments, CIC would work with provinces and territories, which are constitutionally responsible for education, to develop a framework to designate educational institutions that will be permitted to host international students.
If a school is not designated, it would be able to continue offering programmes of six months or less to foreign nationals in Canada on regular visitor visas. Visitors who wish to enrol in short term courses do not currently require a study permit, and this would continue to be the case. Eligible international students attending designated institutions would also be able to work part time off campus, without having to apply for a separate work permit. This new flexibility would contribute to Canada’s appeal in attracting the best and brightest students from around the globe.
Furthermore, to help eliminate abuse of student visas, changes are being made to ensure that the primary intent of an international student in Canada is to study. Currently, foreign nationals are able to apply to any Canadian school or business offering training in Canada and need only demonstrate an intent to study. There is currently no requirement for them to actually pursue studies once in Canada and no way of tracking whether they do.
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These changes would provide CIC with the authority to request evidence from study permit holders to verify their compliance with study permit conditions and international students would be removed from Canada if they fail to meet new requirements. ‘Attracting the best and brightest young minds from around the world is key to the continued success of Canada’s economy and long term prosperity,’ said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.
‘But there are too many stories of international students who pay a lot of money and leave their families back home to study in Canada, only to find out they have been misled. These changes will help us better protect international students and the reputation of Canada’s post-secondary education system by making sure that international students are coming to quality institutions that comply with basic standards of accountability,’ he added.
The proposed changes respond to findings from a 2011 evaluation of the International Student Programme, which concluded that gaps in the programme leave it open to abuse and fraud. Similar reforms have already been implemented by Canada’s key competitor countries for international students and Kenney said that these changes will strengthen Canada’s position as a leader in international education.
‘By improving the International Student Programme, we are strengthening Canada’s reputation as a destination of choice for international students. In addition to the economic impact, international student graduates are a great source of potential permanent immigrants. For those who choose to stay in Canada, their Canadian education and their language skills are important factors for success,’ explained Kenney.
Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, said that international students are vital to the global experience offered on university campuses across Canada. ‘They enrich our institutions with their cultures, languages and unique perspectives and have a positive economic impact on communities coast to coast. We support efforts to strengthen Canada’s reputation as a destination of choice for students around the world,’ he added.