The cap on study permits will be examined by the Senate Committee on Official Languages

The Senate Committee on Official Languages ​​will study the cap on study permits, fearing that it will have “a considerable impact on French-language colleges and universities outside Quebec.” The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller, will be invited to testify.

Under this measure, announced last January, Ottawa plans to grant approximately 360,000 study permits in 2024, or 35% fewer than in 2023. But “stakeholders are already expressing their concerns that the federal government has acted without sufficient consideration for French-speaking post-secondary institutions outside Quebec,” wrote Senator Rose-May Poirier, vice-president of the committee.

More than two months ago, the Association of Colleges and Universities of the Canadian Francophonie (ACUFC) expressed its “deep concern regarding such a measure without nuance which could have unforeseen consequences […] on French-speaking minority communities”. French-speaking post-secondary establishments “count on international clientele to generate revenue that allows them to stay afloat,” explained to Duty Martin Normand, director of international relations of the ACUFC.

The association also highlighted a “blatant contradiction” of the measure with the new version of the Official Languages ​​Act and with the Francophone Immigration Policy, which aims in particular to attract more French-speaking foreign students outside Quebec.

Recognizing that Francophones could be affected, Ottawa for its part assured “to seek mechanisms to minimize the impact” of its decision. Rather than attacking Francophones, the federal government claimed to want to target “malicious actors” who do not welcome students well, whether in terms of housing or mental health support services.

In Ontario, priority French

The Ontario government, responsible for distributing permit quotas between establishments, declared Wednesday that it will prioritize programs “where the demand for labor is high, in order to meet the needs of the Ontario labor market.”

People enrolled in French-language programs will also be given priority, “given the growing demand in the job market for workers who are proficient in French,” said the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

Queen’s Park will award “96% of study permit applications to publicly funded colleges and universities,” the release said. Language schools, private universities, and “other establishments in the province” will have to share the remaining 4%. Vocational colleges will not be able to welcome foreign students.

In 2022, Ontario welcomed 51% of all international students in the country, at all levels of study, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education. From now on, foreign students will not be able to represent more than 55% of the students of an establishment, except in “high demand sectors”.

This report is supported by the Local Journalism Initiative, funded by the Government of Canada.

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