UW, Conestoga state concerns over new cap on international students

By CityNews Kitchener Staff

The federal government announced Jan. 22 that they will be implementing a cap on the number of new visas issued to international students over the next two years.

It has caused a mixture of emotions locally as it means universities and colleges in Waterloo Region will have to decrease the number of new international students coming in by close to 50 per cent. The federal government said international students in Ontario account for a significant portion of growth in the sector.

In a statement to CityNews Kitchener today, a spokesperson for the University of Waterloo said they are concerned with the implications this decision will have at the undergraduate level, as the university is facing financial challenges currently.

Here’s the full statement:

“We are pleased to see in today’s announcement that IRCC acknowledges the critical role that universities play in recruiting skilled graduate students to Canada and the added benefit that universities provide compared to some bad actors in the sector with the removal of post-graduate work permits for students who attended institutions with curriculum-licensing arrangements. We are however, concerned about the implications of this decision at the undergraduate level, especially in light of the current financial challenges that our institution and our sector are facing.

The University of Waterloo provides all students who attend our institution with a top-quality education and campus experience. We recognize the enormous value our community derives from the diversity of our international students’ countries of origin, their cultures, and the learning that takes place through sharing those lived experiences and we are eager to continue to welcome them to our university. 

Waterloo offers a residence guarantee for first-year undergraduate domestic and international students and is continually investing in our housing stock, including with a new 500-bed residence building.  Waterloo provides resources and services to help students access off-campus housing and through our co-op program, offers vital, industry-specific work experience which is invaluable to training the next generation of workers who will contribute to Canada’s economy. We are committed to welcoming, supporting and helping our international students to get the best education possible and to contribute their skills to Canada’s economy.”

CityNews caught up with a second-year student at the University of Waterloo today, studying political science. Mansoor Mohamed said international students bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the community.

“I think that they see it as an issue long term maybe, so they want to be able to reduce the numbers. I didn’t really see it as an issue myself with the amount of international students we have,” said Mohamed.

“The ones that I met are very good people, very hardworking, dedicated, they’re just trying to find a route in this world like we are as well.”

Christine was visiting the University of Waterloo campus today for a meeting and preferred for her last name not to be used. Christine told CityNews she thinks the announcement made today is a good thing.

“It’ll sort of even out the playing field here and sure they might go to other countries, like Australia, England, but we have to do what’s best for us in Canada,” said Christine.

“The universities will have to find another way to make money. It is like a cash cow, the international students, you can quote me on that.”

The director of corporate communications for Conestoga College, Brenda Bereczki, sent a statement to CityNews this afternoon. The college stated they are worried the timelines for these changes are too short as they have already started recruiting students for fall 2024.

Here’s the full statement from Conestoga College:

“Conestoga is aware of the announcement the federal government made this morning regarding a cap on international student admissions. 

The college is a leader in providing high-quality international student experiences, and we are concerned about what the announcement will mean for students and local employers in the eight communities we serve. 

It’s essential to get this right. We worry the timelines for such substantive changes are too short to engage in the kind of meaningful consultation we need. The announcement has created a great deal of uncertainty: We are committed to putting our students first and want to reduce the anxiety about what this means for them. 

The fall 2024 recruitment is already well underway and such large changes may affect students already in Ontario, as well as those who have applied or already received offers of admission. We will actively work with the province to ensure we mitigate the impact on both international and domestic students. 

The international students we welcome at Conestoga are essential to bringing in top talent for key sectors of our workforce and typically come with an existing diploma or degree so they can move quickly into the labour market. 

The largest labour market gaps in some of our key sectors – health care, skilled trades, manufacturing, technology and others – are for college graduates. Ontario’s labour market needs, and those of the communities we serve in southwestern Ontario, simply cannot be met with university graduates alone. 

Governments must work together to ensure we protect Ontario’s reputation as a leading destination for international post-secondary education. They must also work together and meaningfully consult with public colleges and students to ensure the implementation of the new measures do not have unintended negative consequences.”

Wilfrid Laurier University’s spokesperson released a statement to CityNews Jan. 23 in regards to the announcement made.

Here’s the full statement:

“We are reviewing the federal government’s announcement with our sector colleagues, and recommend you speak with Universities Canada for more information. 

Student success is at the heart of Wilfrid Laurier University’s internationalization efforts, which are centred on attracting and supporting engaged international students at every step of their academic journey.  Laurier’s goal is to grow the number of international students while ensuring international student growth is sustainable, ethical, and aligned with the student experience the university is known for.

Laurier provides various supports to international students, including housing supports before they arrive on campus. Similar to domestic students, first-year international students are guaranteed a place in Laurier’s residences, as long as they meet the conditions of their offer. To support upper-year and graduate students, some of whom arrive with families, Laurier partners with local relocation services to provide housing support at no charge to students in need. In addition to the myriad academic and health and wellness supports available to Laurier students, Laurier international students also have access to tailored supports and resources to address their health and wellness needs.”

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today