OTTAWA—This International Education Week, universities are celebrating international students and recognizing their key role in keeping Canada competitive in a global, green and skilled economy.
Canada is facing a talent crisis with 55 per cent of Canadian entrepreneurs struggling to hire the workers they need, according to a recent BDC study. Immigration is a key part of the solution.
International students are twice as likely as domestic students to study engineering and more than two and a half times as likely to study math and computer sciences―two top areas of projected labour shortages. International study is also a common pathway to immigration and a pillar of Canada’s immigration strategy, with about 17 per cent of all new permanent residents and almost 40 per cent of immigrants in the economic category having prior Canadian study experience. International students also bring diverse cultures and perspectives to the classroom, enriching the educational experience for all.
Despite this, international students are facing challenges coming to Canada.
As of September 30, 2022, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) had a backlog of nearly 900,000 temporary resident applications, which includes study permits for international students wishing to study in Canada. IRCC aims to process study permits in 13 weeks—a standard it is not achieving in many cases. In contrast, it takes only three weeks to issue these permits in the United Kingdom and United States.
The solution is for Canada’s government to rethink and resource ways to decrease study permit processing time, and urgently address ongoing systemic process challenges, in collaboration and consultation with Canada’s universities.
“Canada is in a fierce global competition for talent,” says Universities Canada president, Paul Davidson. “International students have many options about where to study. To stay competitive, Canada must do better in its approach to visa processing—ensuring both speed and integrity. International students expand opportunities for Canadian students, enrich our learning environments and contribute to meeting Canada’s talent needs.”
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Assistant Director, Communications