The Canadian government is set to introduce new measures to improve the quality and outcomes of international education, as it faces criticism for the impact of foreign students on the housing and labor markets.
Immigration Minister Marc Miller said on Friday that he will launch a framework that will require universities and colleges to provide better services and support for international students, starting from the fall 2024 semester. He will also implement steps to prevent admission fraud, according to a government statement.
Miller said that schools that meet the enhanced standards will have faster processing of student visas.
The move comes as Canada’s education sector is under scrutiny for its dependence on international students as a source of revenue. Foreign students pay an average of five times more than Canadian students, and some colleges have opened in low-quality facilities to cater to them, especially in Brampton, Ontario, where Miller made his announcement.
Many foreign students also use their education as a way to obtain permanent residency in Canada. Miller did not announce a cap on international student visas, which the Trudeau government has considered before. The number of foreign students in Canada has grown threefold in about 10 years, reaching over 800,000 last year.
Miller’s office said that international education generates more than C$22 billion ($15.9 billion) for the Canadian economy every year — more than Canada’s exports of auto parts, lumber or aircraft — and supports over 200,000 jobs. However, the influx of foreign students has also worsened housing shortages, leaving many of them homeless or in substandard conditions, and saturated labor markets in some areas where there are not enough jobs.