Ontario, British Columbia strengthen oversight in post-secondary education for international students

To enhance transparency and accountability, Ontario is implementing measures to improve the response rate to student outcome surveys. This proactive approach aims to gather data that will contribute to refining academic programs, ultimately optimizing the educational experience for international students.

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In a bid to enhance the integrity of post-secondary education, Ontario and British Columbia have recently implemented measures addressing concerns related to the admission, quality, and overall experience of international students within their provinces.

Ontario’s initiatives

The Ontario government is collaborating with sector partners and the federal government to address the issue of unscrupulous recruiters preying on international students. The focus is on cracking down on bad actors making misleading claims about employment and citizenship. The province emphasizes a review of programs with substantial international student enrollment to align them with local workforce demands, ensuring the quality of education.

To enhance transparency and accountability, Ontario is implementing measures to improve the response rate to student outcome surveys. This proactive approach aims to gather data that will contribute to refining academic programs, ultimately optimizing the educational experience for international students.

Ontario also introduced a moratorium on new public college-private partnerships. The province is committed to strengthening oversight mechanisms to ensure the quality of existing partnerships, responding to recent scrutiny by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). IRCC’s decision to exclude certain programs from Post-Graduation Work Permit eligibility has prompted Ontario to reassess its collaborations to align with federal requirements.

British Columbia’s measures

British Columbia announced a two-year pause on approvals for new Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs), the sole institutions allowed to admit international students. This strategic move aims to assess and refine criteria for DLIs, recognizing the need for standardized benchmarks across provinces.

BC, currently boasting the third-highest number of DLIs in Canada, is also conducting reviews of private degree programs. The focus is on enforcing higher standards for assessment criteria, ensuring degree quality, demonstrating labor-market need for graduates, and providing adequate resources and student support. This approach is deemed a move towards addressing concerns about varying standards and oversight for private institutions.

These new measures come in the wake of challenges faced by international students, particularly in securing housing. Ontario mandates that all colleges and universities guarantee housing options for incoming international students, aligning with the federal government’s initiative to provide low-cost loans for student housing and addressing the broader issue of housing affordability.

Federal support and future outlook

Canada’s Minister of Housing, Infrastructure, and Communities, Sean Fraser, underscores the importance of building more student housing. The federal government’s commitment to low-cost loans for student housing complements provincial efforts to ensure international students have affordable and accessible housing options.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller sees the recently introduced cap on international student visas as a crucial step in creating a stronger and more sustainable program, with the cap believed to provide more robust support, including housing, for international students.

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