The Canadian government is currently ramping up new permits to international students, a comforting sign for the country’s universities who depend on international enrolment as a key source of funding.
The most recent data show 30,785 new study permits were rolled out in May, double the average from the previous three months when they declined dramatically during COVID-19 lockdowns, according to Immigration Canada.
The May figures are above the 27,810 permits sent out during the same month last year, the first year-over-year increase in 2020.
A rise in foreign students in recent years has helped power the country’s biggest surge in net migration in more than a century.
But the COVID-19 pandemic now threatens that driver of growth, even as universities continue to admit foreign students. For one, it’s not clear travel restrictions will be removed in time for the fall semester. There’s also concern the global recession may prompt foreign students to remain at home for their education.
“Still the question will be of course what happens in the fall,” Andrew Agopsowicz, a senior economist at Royal Bank of Canada, stated by email.
The increase in new permits to international students in Canada comes as the Trump administration declares international students won’t be able to stay in the United States unless they take at least one in-person class. Canada has no such restrictions.
There were more than 642,000 international students in Canada at the end of last year.
Alberta Includes U.S. International Student Graduates In Immigration Reforms
Alberta is also accelerating two previously-announced immigration streams targetted at U.S. international student graduates as part of a revamp of the province’s immigration system.
The Student Entrepreneur program and the Foreign Graduate Startup Visa Program will be heavily promoted to “U.S. international student graduates who are not welcome in the United States,” the Alberta Recovery Plan says.
The report was released on June 29, which is one week after the U.S government announced the immigration freeze for 2020 and one week before they announced that foreign students enrolled in a fulltime online study program would have to leave the United States.
“One of the major factors preventing Alberta’s technology sector is a lack of people with relevant skills,” the Alberta Recovery Plan states, “At the same time, the U.S has further closed its border to some of the world’s most talented I.C.T workers and start-up entrepreneurs.”
Growing in the tech sector is one of the strategies in Alberta’s economic recovery plan following the COVID-19 lockdown. The government plans to create capital investments for technology startups, support to develop artificial intelligence, enhance 5G initiatives, and start an Innovation Employment Grant program.
The Foreign Graduate Startup Visa Program is still ongoing though jobs in Alberta have been affected by the coronavirus crisis, the program is poised to support technology and innovation in the Alberta province.