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Canada imposes two-Year Cap on International Student Permits over housing crisis



In a decisive move to address its escalating housing crisis, Canada announced a significant policy change on Monday, imposing a two-year cap on international student permits.

This development is expected to see a substantial reduction in the number of approved study permits, marking a 35% decrease from 2023’s figures to approximately 360,000 in 2024.


This decision, as outlined by the Immigration Minister Marc Miller, is not just a response to the housing shortage but also aims to protect international students from substandard educational institutions.

The Motivation Behind the Decision

The catalyst for this policy shift lies in the concerns raised over the quality of education provided by certain colleges, often private-public partnerships, which offer inadequate services at high costs.

  • These institutions have been accused of exploiting international students, both in terms of education quality and financial demands.
  • Miller highlighted that these colleges have significantly increased their intake of international students while failing to provide necessary resources and support, coupled with exorbitant tuition fees.
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A Broader Impact on Housing and Services

However, the decision transcends the educational sector, addressing broader socio-economic issues.

  • Canada has experienced rapid population growth, primarily fueled by immigration, which has exerted pressure on various services, including healthcare, education, and notably, housing.
  • This surge in population has led to escalated housing costs, contributing to a housing crisis that has become a sore point for the Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Recent polls suggest that these issues have significantly affected Trudeau’s public support, indicating potential electoral challenges for his administration.

Population Growth Concerns: The third quarter of the previous year saw Canada’s population grow at its fastest rate in over six decades.

  • This increase was largely due to a rise in non-permanent residents, predominantly students, which saw the highest surge in more than five decades.
  • This demographic shift has placed an enormous strain on the nation’s infrastructure and services, necessitating immediate and effective policy responses.
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Criticism from Student Advocacy Groups

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is reported to have voiced criticism of the government’s approach, arguing that the cap is a reactionary measure to the housing crisis rather than a strategic solution.

  • Mateusz Salmassi, CASA’s Director of Advocacy, emphasized the need for more support and housing for international students, suggesting that the cap may not address the root causes of the issues at hand.
  • In contrast, the University of Toronto has welcomed the government’s announcement. The university expressed its readiness to collaborate with all levels of government in the allocation of study permits.
  • It also emphasized that the changes are intended to address abuses in the system by specific actors, rather than impacting established universities like theirs negatively.
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Looking Ahead

As Canada grapples with these complex challenges, the government’s decision to cap international student permits reflects a multifaceted approach to policy-making.

  • While it aims to protect international students from exploitation and improve the quality of education, it also seeks to alleviate the pressure on housing and other essential services.
  • However, this policy has sparked diverse reactions, highlighting the delicate balance between managing population growth and maintaining an inclusive, supportive environment for international students.
  • The effectiveness of this cap in addressing Canada’s housing crisis and improving the educational landscape for international students remains to be seen, as stakeholders continue to debate and respond to this significant policy shift.
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