Ontario to introduce new measures amid international student visa cap

The Doug Ford government will be introducing measures “to protect students and improve the integrity of Ontario’s postsecondary education,” including a review of programs with a large number of international students.

The measures were announced in a news release issued Friday afternoon about two weeks after the federal government issued a cap on the number of international students allowed to study in Canada.

Among the list of measures is a moratorium on new public college-private partnerships. This kind of relationship allows private colleges to team up with public institutions in an effort to offer more credentials.

The moratorium would remain in place until the government can “strengthen oversight mechanisms and ensure the quality of existing partnerships.”

The government will also conduct a review of programs offered by universities and colleges that have “a sizeable amount of international students.”

“The challenges stemming from the recent spike in students coming to Canada, including predatory practices by bad-actor recruiters, misinformation regarding citizenship and permanent residency, false promises of guaranteed employment, and inadequate housing for students, require immediate attention and collaborative action,” Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop said in a statement.

“At the same time, we need to strengthen the links between Ontario’s labour market needs and the programs being offered to students so we can get even more people into rewarding careers in health care and the skilled trades.”

Other measures set to be introduced by the government include ensuring programs are meeting labour market needs, requiring that colleges and universities guarantee there are housing options for international students, and implementing measures to improve response rates to student outcome surveys.

Few details about these measures were provided, however the government says they anticipate more information will be available at the end of February.

On Monday, the federal government announced it would be reducing the number of new student visas by 35 per cent. This comes as Canada experiences a spike in international students and concerns that some schools are accepting these students simply to boost revenue.

The cap has been highly criticized by Ontario Colleges and the Council of Ontario Universities, who argue the change has already created “total chaos” and is unfairly punishing responsible institutions along with the “bad actors.” It will also have an impact on students who had planned on attending an Ontario postsecondary institution.

Dunlop, however, says the new measures the province is putting forward are “sensible” considering Ontario’s housing affordability crisis.

“We need to ensure that students coming to study here have a place to live.”

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