The government of Canada should undertake the necessary steps to support international students who have been affected by COVID-19 as the latter play a vital role for the Canadian economy and are very important for the country’s labor market, Supporting Canada’s COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery Through Robust Immigration Policy and Programs report has shown.
According to Erudera.com, the report which overviews the Canadian immigration system before the pandemic erupted has been conducted by the Royal Society of Canada.
“A major reason for the government of Canada’s interest in attracting international students is that these students are seen as an attractive source of skilled migrants, with many international students studying at the postsecondary level,” the report said.
It further noted that international students in Canada are mainly young, know at least one official language, and possess the educational qualifications which are beneficial for the country’s labor market needs, adding that retaining international students is vital for regions where a declining labor force has been seen.
According to data by CBIE, there were over 642,000 international students in Canada since December 2019, a 185 percent increase compared to 2010, making Canada list as the world’s third-best country to pursue studies.
But ever since the pandemic emerged, students across Canada have also experienced many struggles, including visa issuance delays, stress, and insecurity. Recently, many international students in the country have cancelled or postponed their studies at Canadian universities due to pandemic.
26 percent of international students pointed out they have lost their main source of income, while 34 percent said it was difficult to afford payments of rent and utilities, a survey conducted by World Education Services in 2020 revealed.
Whereas, according to Statistics Canada, 58 percent of new study permits for international students decreased in June to August 2020 due to the pandemic, compared to June and August 2019.
“For those who had not yet traveled to Canada to begin their studies, the border closures and delays in permit application processing meant that their ability to enter the country to begin their studies was hampered,” the report added.
Depending on the decrease in the number of international student enrolments, the report highlighted that Statistics Canada calculates a total university loss of $377 million to $3.4 billion during the 2020-21 academic year.
“These students represent potential immigrants and are key to filling labor market gaps in smaller communities, as many remain in the community after graduation,” the authors of the report said.
Moreover, the report authors mentioned an assessment on economic impact carried out by the Northern Policy Institute, which highlighted that a 20 percent drop in the number of international students in Northern Ontario’s post-secondary institutions would lead to a loss of $23 million in lost tuition revenues and an estimated loss of $20 million in contributions to communities.
According to research, in order to soften the impact of these challenges, the governments across the country should allow the renewal of international students’ post-graduate work permits during the country’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery.