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Okanagan College comes out in support of provincial changes to international student enrolment

Announcement comes after the federal government moved to cap the number of study permits it approves
Okanagan College president Neil Fassina.

Okanagan College has come out in favour of measures announced by the provincial government on Monday.

Minister of Post-Secondary Education Selina Robinson says no new college institutions will be allowed to enrol international students for two years. The province is also setting minimum language requirements so international students are "better prepared" before coming to B.C.

“Ethical recruitment, student support and fair treatment are essential elements of our international student strategy at Okanagan College," said college president Neil Fassina in a statement.

"By way of example, OC connects directly with every international student before they leave their home country. We provide orientation sessions online and answer questions from students and families, to help them be prepared and know what to expect. This means that students who come to OC from outside Canada have support from our staff team from the first day we receive their application, right through to their graduation."

Robinson's announcement comes after the federal government moved to cap the number of study permits it approves over the next two years. Immigration Minister Marc Miller said the limit would reduce the number of new student visas by 35 per cent across Canada for this year.

“Across the Okanagan and the Interior region, employers in many sectors are facing staffing pressures. Just last week I toured a local healthcare facility, where they expect to need three times as many staff in the next 10 to 15 years," Fassina continued.

"Many of these jobs will be filled by students who come from our region and from around B.C., and Okanagan College is absolutely committed to helping people increase their skills to fill in-demand opportunities. At the same time, we are growing our program options in responsible ways to attract bright students from outside of Canada into professions and jobs that are critical in our communities and to our economy."

Meanwhile, UBC director of university affairs Matthew Ramsey says it is too soon to speculate on the changes impact on UBC and UBC Okanagan.

"UBC greatly values its international students. International students are an important part of contributing to the university’s academic and research mission," said Ramsey.

"They bring unique and diverse perspectives to the learning environment and campus community. Canada is competing globally for this talent and, needs to ensure that international students continue to consider Canada as a destination of choice."

International students also pay handsomely to attend universities and colleges in B.C., in effect subsidizing domestic students.

The international student program has jumped 31 per cent to more than 800,000 students in 2022 from the year before, adding to the strain on Canada’s housing market.