IRCC Trusted Institutions Framework To Decide Which Schools Can Bring in International Students 

International Student Visa Allowance In Nova Scotia Reduced By A Third
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Factors such as timely graduation and international tuition revenues will be considered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to determine whether colleges and universities can be trusted to bring international students to Canada.

The “Trusted Institutions Framework,” which will be introduced this fall, will sort through “designated learning institutions” based on these criteria and speed up the processing of study permits from “trusted” schools as an incentive for the sector to be more responsible in admitting international students.

It would “incentivize post-secondary educational institutions to meet higher standards with regards to international students,” according to the IRCC Minister Transition Binder 2023: International Student Program.

The 11-page proposal for a Trusted Institutions Framework obtained by the Star said that “the rapid growth intake has disrupted processing times and service standards.”

“There are concerns that many (designated learning institutions) have become increasingly dependent on international students for tuition revenue, in some cases, not providing international students a positive education experience in Canada.”

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“There is a belief that processing times are impacting Canada’s ability to attract top international students, and that, compounded with the reported cases of international student exploitation, this may harm Canada’s reputation as a destination of choice.”

The Star’s Nicholas Keung reported that the Immigration department had developed a matrix to determine which institutions would be eligible. It would be based on seven indicators, including an institution’s:

  • Percentage of students who remain in the original program after their first year in Canada;
  • Percentage of students who complete their program within the expected length of study;
  • Percentage of total revenue that is derived from international enrolment;
  • Dollar value and percentage of total scholarships and grants to students from less developed countries;
  • Dollar value in mental health support as well as career and immigration counselling per international student versus the average tuition they pay;
  • Total number and percentage of international students living in housing they administered; and
  • Average teacher-student ratio for the 10 courses with the highest international enrolment.

The plan wants only “genuine” learners to be recruited, high quality education to be supported, and graduates to demonstrate strong outcomes.

The idea for a Trusted Institutions Framework pre-dated even the decision to cap the number of international students coming to Canada, according to the Toronto Star. The International Student Program Review section from the Transition Binder suggested that it came into being after consultations with Provincial and Territorial (PT) ministries of education and immigration and education sector stakeholders.

The International Student Program Review, as discussed in the Binder, had other areas highlighted for the government to work on. They were:

  • Tackling Bad Actors – Strengthening program integrity and enhancing protections to address student vulnerability, unethical recruitment and non-genuine actors in the program, ultimately better protecting international students and Canada’s interests;
  • Equitable Access – Removing systemic barriers for international students to improve equitable access to the program and ensuring diversification of international student populations, including French-speaking students studying in Francophone Minority Communities;
  • Compatible Work Pathways – Streamlining and clarifying the approach to co-op work opportunities, and making adjustments to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP) eligibility and duration to better target labour market needs; and

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It said that reform in the International Student Program is being implemented for these reasons:

  • Unsustainable application volumes undermine program integrity and contribute to processing backlogs in all IRCC business lines.
  • The Program has moved away from education focus to fulfill economic incentives of institutions and for students to work more than study.
  • Temporary migration of students is not calibrated with permanent residence planning and the pool of long-term post-graduation work permit holders far exceeds available immigration levels space.
  • Greater student vulnerability is apparent with more students in precarious situations, including financial hardship and mental health crises.
  • Barriers for diverse students: various factors contribute to higher study permit refusal rates in some regions, creating barriers for equitable access to the program.

The International Student Program has come under fire recently, especially in the midst of Canada’s housing crisis. This caused the Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, to impose a number of measures to rein in the rapidly climbing international student numbers.

After doubling the cost-of-living financial requirement for new students and introducing a new verification system of college admission letters, Miller imposed a two-year cap on study permits issued, with the goal of reducing the number by 35 per cent from 2023’s level, to 364,000.

“We’ve got two years to actually get the ship in order,” said Miller.

“It’s a bit of a mess and it’s time to rein it in.”

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.