Ontario will prioritize in-demand jobs for international student applications

Courtesy of Immigration News Canada
By Raissa Santos

Ontario will assign 96 per cent of international study permits to publicly assisted colleges and universities. The announcement comes after Ottawa announced a temporary cap on international student permits.  The provincial government is prioritizing programs in high-demand areas such as skilled trades, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) child care, human resources, and hospitality. The remaining four per cent will be designated for language schools, private universities, and other institutions. Career colleges, the institutions that provide career-specific and outcome-based programs will not receive any applications.

Jill Dunlop, Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities

“We have been working with postsecondary institutions to ensure international students are enrolled in the programs to support a pipeline of graduates for in-demand jobs,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities.

French-language enrolment will also be prioritized as employers seek and compete for workers who can contribute to the market with French-language skills.

The new measures towards future international students

The two-year cap imposed by Federal Minister Marc Miller in January has the goal of targeting institutional “bad actors”, private institutions that lack resources and support for international students. The measure is also a response to the impact international students are having on the housing market. The cap will reduce the number of international student permits by 35 percent compared to 2023. Provinces were allotted permits based on population and are responsible for how the limited number of permits are distributed.

Marc Miller, federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Around 240,000 international student permits for post-secondary education were issued last year. It is estimated there were approximately one million international students studying in Canada in 2023. The federal cap will reduce this number. For the next two years, institutions cannot exceed 2023’s permit levels. Colleges will face the largest drop in international student numbers.

  • 11 out of 24 colleges will keep the same level of applications as in 2023. Conestoga College and public-private partnerships will have the largest decrease in international students.
  • 22 universities will keep the same level of applications as in 2023. Algoma University will be the only university to see a decrease in international students.

Applicants who intend to study in Ontario will need to provide a letter of attestation. The letter works as proof that the applicant has been counted as part of the new allocation system. Students should contact the admissions office.

Ontario has the largest number of international students among all provinces and will be mostly impacted by the cap. Statistics from Icef Monitor showed that international students represent 3.5 per cent of the province’s population.

International students struggle with expenses

Beatriz Goulart studies computer programming and believes the cap may seem extreme but it will be beneficial for students. “My friends that arrived a couple of years before me had such a different and more positive experience when looking for houses and applying for jobs,” said Goulart.

The government of Ontario is acting requiring that publicly assisted colleges have guaranteed housing options for international students arriving in the province. In addition to housing, the government also invested over $32 million on mental health for all postsecondary students with funding going directly to institutions as grants.

Vitor Melotto studies web design and says that the cap is a heartbreaking measure. “It’s not fair that future students have their chance to study abroad taken away from them. Now that the situation is out of control, the cap will help students to actually have a chance in finding jobs and houses with reasonable prices.”

The two-year cap intends to provide international students with the quality education they applied for. The amount of permits for 2025 will be reassessed at the end of this year.

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