The Ontario government announced on Friday that it will take several measures to protect and support international students who come to study in the province. These measures include:
- A requirement that all colleges and universities guarantee housing options for incoming international students
- A review of programs offered by post-secondary institutions that have a significant number of international students to ensure the quality and relevance of the education
- A moratorium on new public college-private partnerships while further work is done to strengthen oversight and quality assurance
Housing guarantee for international students
One of the main challenges faced by international students is finding affordable and suitable housing in Ontario. Many students rely on private landlords, homestay programs, or online platforms to secure accommodation, which may expose them to risks such as fraud, discrimination, or substandard living conditions.
To address this issue, the Ontario government will require all colleges and universities to have a guarantee that housing options are available for incoming international students. This means that post-secondary institutions will have to provide information and assistance to students on how to access on-campus or off-campus housing, or partner with reputable housing providers to offer accommodation services.
The government said that this measure will help international students have a smooth transition to their new environment and focus on their academic success.
Quality review of programs for international students
Another challenge faced by international students is ensuring that the programs they enroll in are of high quality and meet their expectations and career goals. Some students may be misled by unscrupulous recruiters, false promises of permanent residency or employment, or low-quality education.
To address this issue, the Ontario government will conduct a review of programs offered by post-secondary institutions that have a sizable number of international students. The review will assess the quality and relevance of the programs, as well as the alignment with the labour market needs and the provincial priorities.
The government said that this measure will help international students have a valuable and meaningful learning experience and contribute to the economic and social development of the province.
Moratorium on new public college-private partnerships
A third challenge faced by international students is ensuring that the institutions they attend are legitimate and accredited. Some students may be enrolled in programs that are delivered by private providers in partnership with public colleges, which may not meet the standards and regulations of the post-secondary sector.
To address this issue, the Ontario government will impose a moratorium on new public college-private partnerships while further work is done to strengthen oversight and quality assurance mechanisms. The government will also prohibit students in these programs from accessing post-graduate work permits as of Sept. 1, 2024, following the federal government’s decision to limit study permits for international undergraduate students.
The government said that this measure will help international students avoid being exploited by bad actors and ensure that they receive a high-quality education from reputable institutions.
A response to the federal cap on study permits
The Ontario government’s announcement comes days after the federal government announced a cap on study permits for international undergraduate students over the next two years. The federal government said that the cap is meant to curb the recent surge in international students and prevent bad actors from taking advantage of high tuition fees while providing a poor education.
The cap will affect Ontario the most, as the province will see its allotment of new visas cut in half, from 140,000 to 70,000 per year. Ontario is the most popular destination for international students in Canada, with more than 300,000 enrolled in 2023.
The Ontario government said that it recognizes the importance and benefits of international students for the province and the country, and that it will work with the federal government and the post-secondary sector to ensure that Ontario remains a welcoming and attractive place for international students.