New Brunswick Schools Want Further Action on International Student Policies

New Brunswick Schools Want Further Action on International Student Policies
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Post-secondary institutions in New Brunswick are raising concerns over recent federal regulations limiting the intake of international student.

Despite the immigration department’s efforts to streamline processes by expanding the number of attestation letters for study permit applications, universities like St. Thomas University are grappling with constrained enrollment figures.

Ryan Sullivan, Associate Vice-President of Enrollment Management at St. Thomas University, acknowledges the positive step of increased attestation letters, now totaling 314 compared to the initial 199.

However, he stresses that this adjustment still falls short of the university’s desired student intake. Last year, out of 550 international applications, only 330 were accepted, and plans for further expansion have been stymied by the new caps imposed by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

In January, Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced a cap on international student permits for 2024, aiming to stabilize Canada’s growth and address concerns about the integrity of the international student system.

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The cap, set at 236,000 study permits, represents a 42% decrease from the previous year’s approvals. This reduction is based on various factors, including expiring permits, extensions, and projected student demographics.

New Brunswick, along with Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, faces a 10% decline in study permit approvals compared to the previous year. To meet the projected approval targets, the number of applications requiring attestation letters has been increased. The Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training, and Labour confirmed a significant rise in the allocation of attestation letters for all designated learning institutions (DLIs) in New Brunswick, from 9,300 to 14,651.

Despite this increase, concerns persist among administrators regarding the cumbersome process of obtaining provincial attestation letters, leading to uncertainty about meeting enrollment targets for the upcoming academic year. Pierre Zundel, President and CEO of the Collège Communautaire de Nouveau-Brunswick, expressed frustration over the timing constraints associated with the attestation letter process, complicating planning for the fall term.

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Moreover, competition from other countries like the UK, US, and Australia, capitalizing on Canada’s tightened regulations, poses additional challenges for attracting international students. Greg Turner, Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training, and Labour, acknowledges the need for improving conversion rates and indicates collaboration between Ottawa and Canadian institutions to address these issues. One proposed solution involves requiring payment of first semester fees before issuing attestation letters, with financial stability being a crucial factor in visa approval.

Despite ongoing efforts to engage with the federal government, concerns persist within the academic community regarding the impact of current policies on international student recruitment and enrollment.

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