Canada on Monday announced that it will limit the intake of international students for the next two years.

The cap is expected to translate into 3,60,000 approved study permits this year, a 35% decrease as compared to 2023.

“In recent years, the integrity of the international student system has been threatened,” read a statement by the Canadian immigration department. “Some institutions have significantly increased their intakes to drive revenues, and more students have been arriving in Canada without the proper supports they need to succeed. Rapid increases in the number of international students arriving in Canada also puts pressure on housing, healthcare and other services.”

According to the statement, the limit in intake is aimed towards stabilising the growth of the number of international students in Canada and protecting them from “bad actors”.

To better implement the plan, the immigration department said that it would allocate a portion of the cap to each province and territory, which will then distribute it among their designated universities.

The study permit applications would now need to include an attestation letter from a Canadian province or territory, which would confirm their capacity to accommodate the student. Provinces have until March 31 to establish a process for issuing attestation letters.

At the end of this year, the government will reassess the cap for 2025.

The cap will, however, not impact study permit renewals.

“Those pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees, and elementary and secondary education are not included in the cap,” the government said. “Current study permit holders will not be affected.”

Canada has also announced that students in institutions employing a private-public model will be prohibited from obtaining a postgraduate work permit upon graduation.

“These programs have seen significant growth in attracting international students in recent years, though they have less oversight than public colleges and they act as a loophole with regards to post-graduation work permit eligibility,” read the government statement.

Additionally, under the new arrangement, open work permits will only be available to spouses of international students who are enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs.

The spouses of international students in other levels of study, including undergraduate and college programs, will no longer be eligible for work permits.

For many Indian students, Canada is one of the top choices of countries to pursue higher education. However, last year the number of Canadian permits for Indian students saw a significant decline.

This came amid a diplomatic row between Ottawa and New Delhi after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged in September that Indian government agents were involved in the murder of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Vancouver in June. New Delhi dismissed the allegation as “absurd” and “politically driven”.

From 1.08 lakh permits issued to Indian students in the third quarter of 2023, the number dropped 86% to 14,910 in the quarter ending December 31, Reuters reported citing government data.

Indians accounted for 40% of all student visas issued by Canada in 2023, up from 14.6% in 2015, according to The Hindu.

In 2014, around 38,000 Indians travelled to Canada to study. The number rose to 3.19 lakh in 2022. The majority of them were pursuing undergraduate degrees, followed by postgraduate degrees and then diplomas or certificate courses.

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