Feds call cap on international students

After months of pressure to crack down on colleges that have been accused of exploiting international students, Canada is capping study permits at about 360,000 students this year. 

What happened: The federal government is reducing the number of international student permits by 35% as part of a temporary two-year cap on foreign enrolment. The move also aims to ease some strain on Canada’s housing market and healthcare systems. 

  • The cap varies based on a province’s population: Ontario will have to cut international enrolment by about 50%, while others can actually increase their load.

  • International students at private colleges — which have ramped up foreign student numbers in recent years — will also lose access to post-graduate work permits.  

Why it matters: Canada’s population rose by 1.25 million people last year, driven almost entirely by immigration, including international students. Economists say the steep increase in the demand for housing has made Canada’s housing shortage more severe.

  • The spike in international student enrollment has also compromised the integrity of the education system, said Immigration Minister Marc Miller, with colleges taking advantage of Canada’s open immigration policies. 

Zoom out: Schools that provide high-quality education and housing support for students will be relatively unaffected by the new rules, according to the minister, while bad actors (read: a growing number of strip mall colleges) will quickly find their bank balances shrinking.

Yes, but: report from Desjardins suggests that by limiting the number of newcomers, the feds could stifle GDP growth and potentially send the economy into a recession.—LA