Stakeholders have heard that international students play a “important role” in Canada and that it is critical that the country remains a “top destination of choice” for “extraordinarily gifted individuals.”
During a plenary speech at ApplyBoard’s Educate the World Conference – Canada, Canadian Minister for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Sean Fraser, who himself was an international student in the Netherlands, expressed the government’s desire to “make it easier” for people to stay in the country after graduation.
“We know that when people come and contribute, it does wonders for our communities and our economy,” Fraser said.

“Canada’s recovery from Covid will necessitate a focus on growth-oriented policies, and it’s a no-brainer to me that immigration will assist drive that development,” he concluded.

Stakeholders in the sector have previously stated that a residence option for students is a “key pillar” of the government’s ambition to welcoming more than 400,000 new permanent residents each year.

The ApplyBoard virtual conference, held on March 10, brought together specialists from the Canadian foreign education industry, including directors from private institutions, university associations, and language schools.

Featured panels included source market outlooks for all regions, including Latin America and Africa, East and South East Asia, and South Asia and the Middle East, as well as dual sessions in English and French on Québec sector trends and insights, scholarships as recruitment tools, and optimising digital and growth strategies.
The inaugural panel, which included major stakeholders such as Languages Canada and Universities Canada, as well as CICan, CAPS-I, and CBIE, emphasised the significance of “embracing a changing world.”

“Internationally mobile students are significantly more vulnerable,” said Larissa Bezo, president and CEO of CBIE.

“We must ensure that we continue to deliver on that student-centered approach – we must support them as full kids, and continue to refine and prioritise around them,” she asserted.

While the epidemic has been devastating, Gonzalo Peralta, the head of Languages Canada, insists that now is a time of opportunity.

“It’s critical to go out there – we couldn’t have been in a better position coming out of the epidemic,” he added.
“People come here for Canada – to attend to our institutions and colleges, to emigrate, to integrate into society – as the globe reopens, we need interaction,” Peralta continued.

“We must continue to build on the benefits that have emerged from the epidemic and attract new markets who were previously uninterested in Canada,” said Bonnie McKie, executive director of CAPS-I.

While the panellists emphasised the importance of in-person learning, there was something to be claimed about the sector’s agility and adaptability in the face of the epidemic.
“Our industry advanced 10 years in 10 days,” Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, stated.

“However, the desire to learn in-person and on-campus remained quite strong.”

“What we need to question is how we can use the greatest elements of online learning to energise in-person learning?” This year, three different cohorts will be experiencing it for the first time,” he noted.

In his plenary address and Q&A on immigration, Fraser emphasised Canada’s strong position in comparison to the rest of the world.

“With many of them having job experience in Canada, international students are well positioned to seek for permanent residency at the end of their education,” Fraser said.

“These students are assisting in meeting a critical demand in areas such as healthcare and technology, and as more students establish their future in Canada, this will directly contribute to our economic recovery and long-term success.”

“During Covid, many international students lost part-time jobs due to lockdowns and business closures – that’s why we lifted restrictions to allow them to work more than 20 hours per week off campus during an academic term… so they could support themselves during a really difficult time,” he continued.

Fraser praised the 2021 results, which saw Canada welcome over 300,000 international students, and emphasised that their immigration and continuing presence in the country is welcome.
“We don’t just want you to study here; we want to develop routes that will allow you to stay and make a meaningful impact beyond your academic career,” Fraser stressed.

One of the co-founders and CEO of ApplyBoard, Martin Basiri, challenged the minister on the ongoing visa processing challenges that have plagued Canadian immigration paths.

“If we removed the criterion that you intend to return home at the end of your year, for example, we wouldn’t have room to relocate anybody else through economic or humanitarian channels,” the minister added.

“We have to make sure that we’re planning for the progression of a person’s immigration journey – we want more international students to come here and likely stay here, but not every single student who applies to be planning to stay immediately because our immigration system doesn’t have that capacity.”

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