Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marc Miller speaks to the media during the federal cabinet retreat in Montreal on Jan. 22.Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press

Ontario universities are calling for a 35-per-cent share of the international study permits that will be allocated by the province under new federal rules, which will reduce the number of students coming from abroad.

Any less of a portion, says the proposal published Thursday by the Council of Ontario Universities, would be “unfair” and undermine the province’s economic potential.

Universities currently enroll about one-third of all international students and two-thirds of all students in the province’s publicly funded colleges and universities. The COU proposal says the federal government’s new policy could not have come at a worse time, as universities – which depend on international students for revenue – are already at a financial breaking point.

In January, Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced an immediate cut to international student intake by 50 per cent, saying the program, which previously had no upper limit, was adding to strain on housing and health care.

Ontario college presidents feud over international student cap

Under the new system, it’s up to the provincial government to decide how the reduced number of permits will be allocated to colleges and universities. Liz Tuomi, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities, Jill Dunlop, said the work is still continuing to determine how permits will be allocated.

Ontario colleges enroll a greater share of international students and have come to rely on the higher tuition they pay to fund their operations. The postsecondary sector is expecting to see a drop of hundreds of millions in revenue as a result of Ottawa’s new changes.

“There is no doubt that Canada, and Ontario in particular, faces a real problem with current practices in the recruitment of international students. However, universities are not the cause of these challenges, and should not be asked to shoulder the consequences of actions taken by other actors in the system,” the COU proposal states.

Ten of the province’s universities are projecting deficits this year, and the COU said any reduction in international enrolment would put more schools in the red.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe