Ontario: 96% of international study permits to public providers

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The provincial government published a statement that indicated language schools, private universities and unspecified “other institutions” will receive the remaining 4% share. In a move that will rock this sector, career colleges will not be allocated any applications.

Ontario will prioritise applications for high-demand areas such as skilled trades, health human resources, STEM, hospitality and child care and the ratio of international permits per institution cannot exceed 55% of the 2023 first-year domestic enrolment.

French language enrolment will also be prioritised, it was reported.

Only Algoma University is likely to see a decline, with the remaining universities likely to keep applications at the 2023 level.

Some 11 of 24 colleges are expected to keep applications at the 2023 level and colleges with public partnerships and Conestoga College seeing the largest decline, the government reportedly said.

“We are protecting the integrity of our province’s postsecondary education system”

“We are protecting the integrity of our province’s postsecondary education system by attracting the best and brightest international students to Ontario to study in areas that are critical to our economy,” Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop said in a statement.

“We have been working with postsecondary institutions to ensure international students are enrolled in the programs to support a pipeline of graduates for in-demand jobs.”

In February, Ontario Universities recommended 35% of Ontario’s 235,000 eligible applications should go to publicly assisted universities.

Ontario has not formally confirmed how many applications it has been allocated.

Provinces were told by federal government to release their plans for the 360,000 cap by the end of March.

British Columbia has confirmed that 53% of its83,000 allocation will go to public post-secondary institutions, with the remaining 47% for private institutions.

Nova Scotia has been allocated 12,900 Provincial Attestation Letters, which are being used to prove that students have been accounted for under the cap.

Ontario was the province that was going to be most impacted by the federal government’s cap policy, as estimates had suggested the province would see a drop of some 133,000 students in the next year as a result of the cap.

On March 26, the province announced its 2024 Budget, which confirmed the already announced$1.3 billion funding boost for colleges and universities as well as tuition fee freezes for domestic students.

Over three years, starting in 2024/25, the provincial government will invest $903 million in a Postsecondary Education Sustainability Fund, as well as $203 million in targeted supports for institutions with the greatest financial need.

It also introduced the Strengthening Accountability and Student Supports Act,2024 on February 26, which would require colleges and universities to have “clear and transparent” information about mental health policies, as well as policies to address racism and hate.

Separate investment in STEM ($100 million in 2023/24) and small, Northern and rural colleges and Northern universities ($10 million) will help to meet labour market demands and support financially vulnerable institutions beyond big cities.

But universities say more is needed to protect Ontario’s higher education sector over the long term.

“Ontario’s universities share the government’s goal to put Ontario on a path towards a more promising future, as outlined in the provincial budget,” Steve Orsini, president and CEO of Council of Ontario Universities, said.

“Ontario’s universities share the government’s goal to put Ontario on a path towards a more promising future”

While the $1.3bn support provides immediate financial relief, “it falls far short of what the sector needs to be financially sustainable,” Orsini said.

Additional investment to support enrolment increases of registered nurses and access to capital and infrastructure to provide student housing via the Building Ontario Fund were included in the budget.

Among a raft ofnew measures announced by Ontario in January, including a ban on new PPPs, institutions were directed by the province to ensure housing is available for all international students they recruit.

However, the Council of Ontario Universities said more needs to be done to address the long-term financial sustainability of universities.

Its recentopen letterurged the government to commit to recommendations from theBlue-Ribbon Panel, which said more than $2.5bn in base revenue was needed for the postsecondary sector over three years.

The council has previously said that a 5% rise in tuition for general programs and a 10% boost to operating grants would help to move Ontario’s universities towards financial sustainability.

“With more than a decade of declining provincial grants, increasing demands on universities, a 10% cut to tuition and now an eight-year long tuition freeze, as well as a federal cap on international students, Ontario’s universities are at a breaking point,” Orsini said.

“Universities will have no choice but to scale back on the programs, services and supports students rely on.”

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