British Columbia confirms 83,000 UG permit applications for next year

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British Columbia has confirmed that it will be allocated 83,000 undergraduate study permit applications after Canada’s federal government announced a cap earlier this year.

The province – which saw approximately 97,000 study permit applications in 2023 for undergraduate programs in 2023 – said it will begin issuing provincial attestation letters to eligible post-secondary institutions from March 4.

The letters for prospective undergraduate students will be shared fairly evenly between private and public institutions.

Based on previous acceptance rates, the federal government expects the application allocation to result in some 50,000 approved study permit applications for 2024, compared to 60,000 in 2023.

ApplyBoard had previously estimated that the province would be capped annually at 83,486 for the next two years. Calculations by The PIE suggested that British Columbia would receive some 50,000 study permits in 2024 based on the fact that the province accounts for around 14% of Canada’s population.

Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills in British Columbia, Lisa Beare, said the ministry is “moving quickly to ensure that we mitigate negative impacts to our post-secondary institutions and that international students have every opportunity to succeed in their education” in the province.

“The federal cap doesn’t take British Columbia’s unique environment into account”

“While we’ve all agreed that the status quo wasn’t working for anyone – not for students, and not for our communities – the federal cap doesn’t take British Columbia’s unique environment into account,” she added.

In January, the province’s former Post-Secondary Education minister, Selina Robinson, announced that no new post-secondary institutions seeking to enrol international students would be approved until February 2026.

It also said that private post-secondary institutions would be subject to more frequent inspections as well as new minimum language requirements.

Private degree programs also have to meet higher standards for approval including being able to demonstrate labour-market need for graduates and appropriate resources and student supports.

The move is designed to counter “exploitive practices and improve the quality of post-secondary education”.

Robinson, who stepped down from her position following outcry after comments on the Israeli war in Gaza in February, said at the time the more stringent requirements for institutions would protect international students, provide better paths to success and ensure the province continues to “attract talented students”.

Beare said the province will “continue to work with the federal government to ensure any subsequent changes take British Columbia’s needs into consideration”.

“[That way] we can have a made-in-B.C. solution that properly responds to our shared goals,” she said.

The minister is said to be pushing federal government for more places in schools in key sectors such as trucking and health care.

IRCC announced on January 22 that provincial attestation letters would be required for new study permit applications immediately.

The letters, which serve as proof that applicants have been accounted within federal government caps, will be split between public and private institutions.

Some 53% will go to public post-secondary institutions and 47% will go to private institutions.

British Columbia said that the divide will support public post-secondary institutions with “sustainable international enrolment” to maintain their international student programs.

In total, private institutions will receive 27% fewer study permit applications this year than they did in 2023.

Those that have pursued unsustainable growth will see “the greatest impact of the reduced allocation”, BC said.

Recent data from CBC News revealed the unsustainable growth in international student numbers is disproportionately linked to a handful of public institutions in Ontario.

This has called into question claims by federal and provincial politicians that blamed “bad actors” in private institutions for the nationwide explosion of international students.

The federal government is issuing 605,000 PALs to post-secondary institutions across the country based on the estimation that 60% – 360,000 – of these will result in applicants accepting the offer and study permits being allocated.

“PALs are like Willy Wonka’s golden tickets”

“PALs are like Willy Wonka’s golden tickets. Institutions have drawn up whole rubrics to determine which students are most likely to accept their offer because if you send out a letter and it isn’t used by the student, that letter is not returned to the university,” Cath D’Amico, former president of Languages Canada told The PIE.

“Canada’s a casino now… each institution is really analysing student acceptance rates which will likely skew the government’s 60/40% calculations,” said D’Amico.

Furthermore, a lack of specific detail from the federal government about how PALs will be regulated has made institutions concerned that they could issue a letter to a student and that student will take the letter and use it to go elsewhere, according to D’Amico.

K12, masters and doctoral, and students already in Canada with valid permits and those applying for an extension are exempt from the requirement, which came into force on 8:30 a.m. (ET) on January 22.

Provinces and territories have been asked to have plans in place for issuing the letters by the end of March.

Based on previous acceptance rates, Ontario could see its study permits limited to around 140,000 from around 220,000 and Alberta to 43,000 from 22,000. Quebec is expected to rise to 83,000 from 37,000 in 2023.

Other provinces with lower levels of population can expect total study permits to grow in the next two years because of the allocation.

The post British Columbia confirms 83,000 UG permit applications for next year appeared first on The PIE News.

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