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Feds urged to do more to protect international students: CAUT

(Ottawa – December 11, 2023) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on the federal government to do more to protect international students from fraud and abuse.

Last week, Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced that beginning the next academic year international students will need to prove they have $20,635 for living costs to qualify for study permits, more than double the previous requirement and in addition to the money needed to cover tuition fees and travel costs.

“We agree with the Minister that international students are being targeted for abuse and exploitation by unscrupulous actors, and that is hurting the global reputation of Canada’s universities and colleges,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “But raising the financial threshold of studying in Canada isn’t going to solve the problem. We need more concrete measures to crack down on misleading and unethical international student recruitment agents and low quality private educational institutions. They are selling false promises of pathways to permanent residency.”

Robinson notes that international students already must demonstrate they have significant financial resources to study in Canada as they pay tuition fees five times higher than domestic students. According to Statistics Canada, the average undergraduate tuition for the 2023-2024 school year is $38,081 for international students, compared to $7,076 for domestic students.

 “Requiring international students to prove they have more money won’t end fraud and abuse. It will impose an additional financial burden on less well-off students and their families and could reduce the socioeconomic diversity of international students in Canada,” added Robinson. “The government should provide more financial support for qualified international students from low- and modest-income families to help offset the impact of the new rules.”

Robinson said Canada’s universities and colleges, which have grown increasingly financially dependent on international students, also need to do more.

“Institutions need to ensure they have the housing, facilities, services, and staff to support international students,” he said. “Our members are reporting cases of institutions taking in far more international students than their capacity.”

Minister Miller also announced that the currently uncapped weekly work-hour allowance for international students will wind down on April 30, 2024, and that the department is looking into setting a new work-hour limit. 

Read CAUT’s and the Canadian Federation of Students’ (CFS) joint recommendations on the federal government’s International Education Strategy.