Announcement on Visa Allocations Continue Dangerous Status Quo in Leaving International Students Behind

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TORONTO, ON, April 05, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is critical of the recent announcement made by the provincial government to allocate International student visas to programs that  help support “labour market needs”. Students are upset that this announcement continues the dangerous status quo where the provincial government continues to fail to address the increasingly exorbitant tuition fees International students are forced to pay.

In recent years, the provincial and federal governments have encouraged the recruitment of International students. This announcement however, has created more confusion and visa precarity for International students, who now must determine whether or not visas have been allocated to their current choice of program or studies. 

International students play an integral part in our Post-Secondary Education system, bringing a diverse range of experiences and knowledge, both on and off-campus, while contributing massively to Ontario’s economy. Yet in return, International students are faced with a number of challenges and barriers with minimal support from their post-secondary institutions and all levels of government. This includes differential fees that International students pay, which in the 2023-2024 academic year, were approximately 466% more than domestic students. Without adequate per-student funding from the provincial government and a decision to place a cap on fee increases, college and university administrations will continue to raise International student tuition fees however they see fit. In addition to high differential fees, International students must pay high premiums for private health insurance plans as they have been left out of OHIP. Compounded by the rising cost of food and other necessities, International students have turned to accessing food banks and in some instances, they have been turned away simply due to their student visa because of discriminatory practices.

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“International students are not commodities, they are human beings. Governments, colleges and universities have long used International student fees to help offset their costs. This needs to stop immediately,” says Mitra Yakubi, Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. “The criteria on how visas will be allocated is not only arbitrary, but it goes against the purpose of higher education. Governments should not sway or impact what programs are deemed worthy of study.”

International students also struggle with finding housing options because of the high cost of rent and the rigorous application processes that ask for credit scores and past local rental references they would not have. Yet, the cap on International student study permits made by the federal government is nothing but a xenophobic rhetoric that blames International students for a housing crisis that is simply rooted in decades of bad government decisions and policies.

Students don’t believe it has to be this way. In the 2024 Lobby Week document, the Federation outlined concrete actions the provincial government can take that will directly benefit International students. This includes OHIP for all, regulating International tuition fees, ending the differentiated fees between domestic and International students, and the elimination of tuition fees for all. A free, accessible and high-quality Post-Secondary Education system is possible, and instead of offloading its problems onto International students, the province must listen to students to address the root causes of International student struggles.

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the oldest and largest student organization in Ontario, representing over 350,000 college and university students in every region of the province.

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For further information or to set up an interview, contact:
Mitra Yakubi, CFSO Chairperson, at [email protected]
Isobel McDonald, Government Relations and Policy Coordinator, at [email protected]

CONTACT: Mitra Yakubi Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (416) 925-3825 [email protected] 

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