Senate committee recommendations on
foreign student recruitment and settlement
by Michael Scott
On September 20, 2023, a senate committee released a report on how to strengthen the country’s international student program. The report says that the student population reached about 807,750 in 2022, which represents a level more than four times greater than 2008.
The international students are beneficial to Canada’s economic recovery from the pandemic and add to the social and cultural life in Canada. The benefits are balanced against the failings and abuse of some agents who direct students into educational programs that are not eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which excludes them from work permits and opportunities to gain permanent residency. The senate committee identified several steps to improve conditions for international foreign students inside Canada. These include the following:
1. The senators are concerned about the financial sustainability of Designated Learning Institutions (DLI) in the face of “diplomatic disputes.” This is true of the current strained relationship between Canada and India. The dispute has a major impact on the recruitment of foreign students from India, which has become the major source country for foreign students.
2. The senate committee promotes a pro-student policy to improve the conditions for foreign students at DLI colleges. This oversight is important for providing support for the students to find adequate housing and employment as well as addressing the mental health and isolation of foreign students inside Canada.
3. The college expressed their concerns about the activity of education agents who sometimes promote studies that are not eligible for a PGWP. This is important because there is a strong connection between international students and their need to obtain PGWPs to secure permanent residence following graduation.
4. The senate committee recognized the lack of adequate housing for international students. They recommend the sharing of federal data about student housing and the creation of a National Housing Strategy to connect post-secondary institutions with affordable housing options for their students.
5. It is also important for DLIs to provide their students with information about their legal rights and recourse when it comes to housing, employment, and sexual abuse. A lot of these abuses go unreported due to a lack of information for students about their rights and options in reporting.
6. It is important that a national policy strategy on temporary residence to PR pathways be available for international students after studying in Canada. This information can help students understand their options and inform them about the requirements for Canadian permanent residence. It is important for students to have a realistic picture of what they face for future employment when planning their studies and life in Canada.
7. The need for good information goes beyond employment to settlement supports for international students. These include providing international students with better care and addressing the abuses reported inside Canada. The provision of good information is important for foreign students to make correct decisions about their future, especially leading to permanent residence.
8. The committee recognizes the need for a standardized admission requirement for Canadian Language Benchmarks. A standard baseline for international students should be implemented across DLIs.
9. Concerning the recent problems encountered by foreign students regarding Letters of Admission (LOA), it is important to add integrity to the current system to avoid the recent abuse of 700 plus foreign students from an unscrupulous consultant who fabricated admission letters.
10. The senate committee recommends changes in both the Act and Regulations to impose stronger guidelines on education agents and provide oversight measures. One recommendation is for increased fines and revocation of DLI status for those who violate new policy measures.
11. There is also a recommendation on lowering the student tuition fees, which should be tied to the operation of the DLI to reduce their over dependence on high student fees to cover the operational expenses of the schools.
12. One recommendation is for all provinces to follow the lead of Manitoba in regulating overseas educational agents and international student recruiters. Manitoba has a range of measures in its International Education Act that governs the behaviour of recruiters and imposes penalties for poor behaviour with a code of conduct that can be used by other provinces and territories.
The list provided by the senate committee is not comprehensive, but it is a starting point. Canada has a responsibility to care for its educational recruitment. As a country and people, we will be judged on how we treat others. The global marketplace is competitive, and Canada needs to ensure that our treatment of foreign students be improved if we are to remain one of the choice countries for immigration, foreign students, and resettlement. If we are to continue to grow our economy, we must attract the brightest and the best but practice the Golden Rule and to “love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: email@example.com.
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