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International Students in Canada: Caught Between Opportunity and Exploitation

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January 3, 2024

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SPS Canada

study permit process to be reformed

Canadian Schools Welcome Many International Students, but Many Face Entry Challenges.

Many international students accepted by Canadian schools are being denied visas, with nearly half facing rejection. This trend is affecting some Ontario public colleges, where thousands of admitted students are being turned away by visa officers.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller has strongly criticized the Canadian international student system, likening it to a “puppy mill.” Critics argue that both educational institutions and individuals seeking work and permanent residence are taking advantage of the system, raising concerns about its integrity and functionality. The comparison highlights the perception that the system is being exploited for various purposes, beyond its original intent.

Between January 1, 2022, and April 30, 2023, the Canadian Immigration Department approved 54.3% (470,427) of the 866,206 study permit applicants accepted by designated learning institutions (DLIs) in Canada. DLIs are authorized by provinces to host international students. Ontario, being the leading destination for international students, houses the largest number of the 1,335 designated learning institutions in the country.

How do Study Permit Approval Rates Vary Among Canadian Educational Institutions?

Public colleges generally experienced higher rejection rates than public universities, with private institutions having even higher rates despite comprising less than 10% of overall applications. Notably, Ontario’s top destination for international students, the University of Toronto, achieved a 90% approval rate, while other universities like Waterloo and McMaster had rates around 86.5%. Public colleges, such as Lambton, saw a 70% approval rate, while Conestoga College, the highest in study permit applications across Canada, had a 51% approval rate.

Despite study permit approval rates not necessarily reflecting educational quality, Immigration Minister Marc Miller expressed concerns about the integrity of Canada’s international student program. Miller emphasized the responsibility of provinces, which designate learning institutions, to ensure that only worthy institutions receive visas. The data sheds light on varying approval rates across different types of educational institutions, raising questions about the overall effectiveness and fairness of the system.



Student program under Survey.

The growing international student program is under scrutiny for aggressive recruitment and involvement of unregulated agents. Many migrants see studying in Canada as a route to work and secure permanent residence, raising concerns about the program’s integrity and susceptibility to exploitation.

In the last ten years, the number of study permit holders in Canada has tripled, reaching nearly 900,000 this year. International students play a significant role in the economy, contributing $22 billion through spending and tuition, and supporting 200,000 jobs. Despite these contributions, the ongoing affordable-housing crisis and increasing living costs have left many international students facing challenges in finding employment and securing housing. As a result, some students have resorted to turning to food banks for assistance.

Canada’s reliance on international students as a revenue source for post-secondary education has raised concerns about the integrity of the system. The recruitment approach, characterized by a “mass volume” strategy, has led to high study permit application refusals and the submission of subpar applications. Efforts by Immigration Minister Marc Miller to regulate designated learning institutions are underway, but critics emphasize the need for further measures, including increased transparency in the activities of overseas education agents. Balancing economic benefits with the well-being of international students remains a crucial challenge, requiring continuous efforts to ensure the credibility of Canada’s education system on the global stage.

Get in touch with SPS Canada

Receive professional advice on any of your questions regarding Canadian immigration. get in touch with us, experienced immigration consultants from SPS Canada. For additional information, contact support@spscanada.com (Canada) or support.amd@spscanada.com

(Ahmedabad), or by phone at (1)905-362-9393 (Canada) or +919586226232 (Ahmedabad).



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