British Columbia sets 2-year ban on the admission of international students

British Columbia sets 2-year ban on the admission of international students

British Columbia will have set a ban on tertiary institutions from admitting international students for the next two years.

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller stated that this measure aims to decrease new student visa issuance by 35% for the current year as the province aims to address “exploitative practices” within the system, as per the announcement.

Exploitative international recruitment, lack of diversity in some institutions, others

We learned that B.C. Premier David Eby emphasized the importance of addressing issues within the international education system, recognizing its pivotal role in the province’s social and economic framework.

He said,

  • “There are a wide array of private institutions, big and small in our province, but regardless of the size of the institution, our expectations of the level of quality are the same
  • “There are institutions that are not meeting our expectations right now.”

The B.C. Federation of Students, representing over 170,000 individuals enrolled at universities, colleges, and institutes, hailed the changes as a good first step and an acknowledgment of longstanding concerns.

The federation underscored the urgency of addressing the problem of exploitative international recruitment and urged the provincial review to examine the over-reliance on tuition from foreign students by public post-secondary institutions.

Similarly, the Federation chairperson Melissa Chirino emphasized the importance of prioritizing student needs and ensuring the protection of international students.

Robinson outlined measures to enhance transparency in tuition costs for international students at public post-secondary institutions and to establish expectations for maximum international student enrollment levels in collaboration with these institutions.

She highlighted the need for diverse student populations to foster integration and understanding of Canadian culture, stating that she had heard of stories in some institutions where the entire class is made up of students from one country. She therefore stressed the importance of these changes in promoting student success and institutional quality.

The announcement detailed new standards for institutions, including higher assessment criteria for degree quality, demonstrated labor-market need for graduates, appropriate resources, and student support. Robinson confirmed that the pause on new institutions would extend until February 2026.

Correcting faults in the international education system

Selina Robinson, the Minister for Post-Secondary Education, emphasized the necessity of the freeze to rectify deficiencies within an international education framework that has been underperforming.

Robinson highlighted that the province initiated an examination of the system last March, revealing instances of substandard education, a shortage of instructors, and discouragement of students from lodging complaints by certain private institutions.

Robinson recounted the experience of a student whose family saved money for her to pursue a quality education in British Columbia.

However, upon arrival, she was enrolled in online classes instead of the promised in-class instruction. Robinson therefore stressed the importance of preventing such misleading practices by unscrupulous actors within the education sector.

Setting minimum language requirements 

Robinson additionally revealed that the province would establish minimum language proficiency standards at private institutions to ensure international students are adequately prepared before arriving in British Columbia. Further specifics regarding these language requirements will be disclosed in March, as efforts are still underway in this regard.

Out of the 175,000 international post-secondary students from over 150 countries studying in British Columbia, approximately 54% are enrolled in private institutions. The province hosts 280 such private schools, with 80% of them situated in the Lower Mainland region.

Proactive evaluation of programs

Robinson stated that the province will increase inspections of schools to ensure compliance with standards, expressing concern that many students are being exploited.

  • “They worry that if they complain, it will risk their student visa, and it will sacrifice all the effort their families have put into making sure they can get a quality education,” she said. 
  • “So, they’re less likely to complain. As a result of hearing that, we’re going to be … developing a system where we’ll be on-site and doing a more proactive evaluation of programs.”

Regarding the two-year pause, Robinson noted that it allows the province time to evaluate the impact of recent changes, such as the federal government’s decision to cap study permits approved over the next two years.

According to her, the student program has experienced significant growth, with a 31% increase to over 800,000 students in 2022 compared to the previous year, placing additional strain on Canada’s housing market.



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