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Prepared by Samuel Francis Gills; Shreeya A Pal; Edited by Veronica Laurent on March 16, 2022

International students have an important role in Canada, according to stakeholders, and 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 Canada (IRCC)  Sean Fraser, who 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 individuals come in 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 no surprise to me that immigration will play a role in that growth. Stakeholders in the sector have previously stated that a student residency pathway is a “key pillar” of the government’s ambition to welcome more than 400,000 new permanent residents each year.

On March 10, professionals from throughout the Canadian foreign education sector, including directors from private institutions, university associations, and language schools, convened electronically for the ApplyBoard conference.

Source market outlooks for all regions, including Latin America and Africa, East and Southeast Asia, and South Asia and the Middle East, as well as dual sessions on Québec sector trends and insights in both English and French, scholarships as recruitment tools, and optimising digital and growth strategies, were among the featured panels.

The first panel, which included major stakeholders such as Languages Canada and Universities Canada, CICan, CAPS-I, and CBIE, emphasised the need of “embracing a changing world.” “Internationally mobile students are significantly more vulnerable,” said Larissa Bezo, president, and CEO of CBIE.

“We need to keep delivering on that student-centred approach — we need to support them as full kids and refine and prioritise around them,” she stated. Even though the epidemic has had a significant impact, Gonzalo Peralta, the head of Languages Canada, believes that now is a time of opportunity.

“Getting out there is critical — we couldn’t have wished for a better position emerging from the pandemic,” he said. “People come here for Canada – to attend our institutions and colleges, to emigrate, to integrate into society – as the world reopens, we need interaction,” Peralta continued.

 

“We need to build on the positives from the pandemic and attract new markets who were previously uninterested in Canada,” Bonnie McKie, executive director of CAPS-I, said. While the panellists emphasised the importance of in-person learning, there was something to be claimed about the sector’s speed and adaptability as the pandemic approached.

Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, remarked, “Our sector shifted ten years in ten days.” “However, the urge to learn in person and on campus remained strong.

“What we need to figure out is how to incorporate the best aspects of online learning with in-person learning.” This year, we have three different cohorts that will be experiencing it for the first time,” he noted. In his plenary speech and Q&A on the topic of immigration, Fraser emphasised Canada’s strong position in comparison to the rest of the world.

“International students have exceptional job skills, and many of them have work experience in Canada, so they’re in a good position to apply for permanent residency at the end of their studies,” Fraser said.

“These students are assisting in the filling of a critical need in areas such as healthcare and technology, and as more students establish their futures in Canada, this will directly contribute to our economic recovery and long-term prosperity.”

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

Fraser praised Canada’s 2021 results, which saw the country welcome more than 300,000 international students and emphasised that their immigration and presence in the country is welcome. “We don’t just want you to come here to study; we want to establish routes for you to stay and contribute beyond your academic career,” Fraser emphasised.

One of the co-founders and CEO of ApplyBoard, Martin Basiri, challenged the minister on the ongoing visa processing problems impacting Canadian immigration routes.

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

“We need to make sure that we’re planning for the next step in a person’s immigration journey — we want more international students to come here and likely stay here, but not every student who applies has to intend to stay right away because our immigration system doesn’t have that capacity.”

Check out Owlspriority Immigration’s Canada Settlement Resources to learn more about ways to finding a new job in Canada, making your initial days in Canada stress-free and confident.


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