Stakeholders have heard that international students play an “important role” in Canada and that it is critical that the country remains a “top destination of choice” for “extraordinarily gifted individuals.”
During one plenary speech at ApplyBoard’s Educate the World Conference Canada, Canadian Minister for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Sean Fraser, who himself was an international student in the Netherlands, expressed the government’s desire to “make it easier” for people to stay in the country after graduation.
“We know that when people come and make a contribution, it does wonders for our communities and does wonders for our economy,”Fraser said.
“Canada’s recovery from Covid is going to require that we bring an emphasis on growth-oriented policies, and it’s a no-brainer to me that immigration is going to help drive that growth.”
Leaders in the sector have previously stated that a residency option for students is a “key pillar” of the government’s ambition to welcome more than 400,000 new permanent residents each year.
The ApplyBoard online conference, held on March 10, brought together specialists from the Canadian foreign education industry, comprising directors from private colleges, university associations, and language schools.
Featured panels included source market outlooks for all regions, including Latin America and Africa, East and Southeast Asia, and South Asia and the Middle East, as well as dual sessions in English and French on Québec sector trends and insights, scholarships as recruitment tools, and optimising digital and growth strategies.
The opening panel, which included major stakeholders such as Languages Canada and Universities Canada, as well as CICan, CAPS-I, and CBIE, emphasised the significance of “embracing a changing world“.
“There is considerably more vulnerability with internationally mobile students,” said Larissa Bezo, president and CEO of CBIE.
“We need to make sure we keep delivering on that student-centred approach – we must support them as whole students, and continue to refine and prioritise around them,”she declared.
Whereas the pandemic has been devastating, Gonzalo Peralta, the head of Languages Canada, insists that now is a time of opportunity. While the panellists emphasised the importance of in-person learning, there was something to be claimed about the sector’s agility and adaptability in the face of the pandemic.
In his plenary speech and Q&A on immigration, Fraser emphasised Canada’s strong position in comparison to the rest of the world. Overseas students offer exceptional employment skills, and because many of them have work experience in Canada, they are well-positioned to apply for permanent residency at the end of their education, according to Fraser.
“These students are helping to fill a pressing need in areas like healthcare and tech, and as more students build their future in Canada, this is going to contribute directly to our economic recovery and our long-term prosperity.
“During Covid, many international students lost their part-time jobs as a result of lockdowns and business closures – that’s why we lifted restrictions to allow them to work over 20 hours per week off-campus during an academic term… so they could support themselves during a really challenging time,”he continued.
Fraser praised the 2021 results, which saw Canada welcome over 300,000 international students, and emphasised that their immigration and continued presence in the country is welcome. One of the co-founders and CEO of ApplyBoard, Martin Basiri, challenged the minister on the ongoing visa processing challenges that have plagued Canadian immigration paths.
“If we completely did away with the requirement that there was an intent to go home at the end of your year, for example, we wouldn’t have space to resettle anyone else through economic streams or humanitarian streams,”the minister explained
“We have to try to make sure that we’re planning for the succession of a person’s immigration journey – we want more international students to come here and likely stay here, but not necessarily every single student who applies to be planning to stay immediately because our immigration system doesn’t have that capacity.”
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