Effect of international student visa cap on UBC remains unclear

The federal government has announced an intake cap on international study permit applications starting in September 2024. It remains unclear whether this will lead to a significant decrease in international student admissions at UBC.

According to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) website, the measure was taken to enhance the safeguarding of international students from predatory recruitment processes and promote sustainable population growth in Canada.

The cap is expected to result in about 360,000 issued study permits in 2024, a 35 per cent decrease from 2023. The IRCC has also established individual provincial and territorial caps aiming for more significant decreases in provinces which have seen the most unsustainable growth in international student population. BC has been allotted 83,000 applications in 2024, which could result in 50,000 approved study permits.

The IRCC will distribute study permits to each province and territory, who then allocate each individual institution a certain number.

However, study permit renewals are unaffected by the cap. The cap also excludes individuals pursuing master's and doctoral degrees, as well as those engaged in elementary and secondary education. Current holders of study permits will also experience no impact.

This decision comes weeks after the IRCC Minister Marc Miller announced the government’s plan to double the financial requirement for student visa applicants and necessitating confirmation of international students’ admission letter with IRCC

These interim measures will remain effective for a duration of two years, and a re-evaluation of the acceptance of new study permit applications for the year 2025 will be conducted at the end of 2024.

Effect on UBC unclear

During the academic year 2022/23, UBC enrolled 19,909 international students representing over 160 countries. For 2023, international student fees to generated $657 million in comparison to $400 million generated by domestic students. Broadly, international education constitutes a $22 billion sector in Canada.

According to a statement from UBC’s Media Relations’ Director of University Affairs Matthew Ramsey, UBC will be working with the provincial government and IRCC over the coming weeks as the details of the announcement are clarified.

“UBC greatly values its international students. International students are an important part of contributing to the university’s academic and research mission. They bring unique and diverse perspectives to the learning environment and campus community,” wrote Ramsey.

The Migrants Students Union (MSU) at UBC called on UBC to speak out against these changes.

In a statement to The Ubyssey the MSU wrote “[UBC] is charging more than 5 times for international student tuition to fund higher education instead of asking the provincial government for funding, yet providing no support against policies that hurt their students. We ask the university, if you can use international students as cash cows, then you must speak out for their rights."