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Ontario to compel colleges to guarantee foreign student housing

Ontario, known as the educational hub for half of Canada's foreign students, is set to implement a groundbreaking policy mandating colleges and universities to ensure suitable housing for incoming international students. This decision comes on the heels of a recent restriction on international student visas by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government. The move aims to address public concerns regarding the influx of temporary migrants, which has contributed to escalating rents and housing prices.

In response to the evolving landscape, Ontario's Ministry of Colleges and Universities announced additional measures, including a comprehensive review of programs offered by institutions hosting a significant number of foreign students. This review is intended to align these programs with the current demands of the labor market. Jill Dunlop, the Minister for Colleges and Universities, emphasized the urgency of addressing challenges arising from the recent surge in students coming to Canada.

Among the issues requiring immediate attention, Dunlop highlighted predatory practices by unscrupulous recruiters, the spread of misinformation regarding citizenship and permanent residency, false promises of guaranteed employment, and the pressing concern of inadequate housing for students. The province aims to combat these issues through collaborative efforts and swift action.

In a move to control the exponential growth of foreign students over the past decade, Ontario will also prohibit new partnerships between public and private colleges. Such collaborations were identified as a significant factor behind the threefold increase in the number of foreign students. Many of these students leverage their education for post-graduate work permits and, ultimately, permanent residency in Canada.

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller has called upon provinces to take more robust measures to prevent the exploitation of foreign students. As provinces hold primary responsibility for funding post-secondary institutions and designating them as learning institutions, their role is crucial in ensuring the well-being of international students.

British Columbia, another favored destination for foreign students, is expected to unveil its own set of measures next week, reflecting the broader national commitment to addressing challenges associated with the increasing number of international students.

Universities and colleges have become increasingly dependent on international students, who contribute significantly by paying, on average, five times the tuition fees paid by Canadian students. In response to the changing dynamics, Ontario has also taken steps to freeze tuition fees for Canadian students in recent years.

These initiatives collectively signify a comprehensive approach by Ontario to address the multifaceted challenges posed by the surge in foreign students. The focus on housing, program alignment with labor market needs, and curbing exploitative practices demonstrates the province's commitment to fostering a positive and sustainable environment for both domestic and international students alike.