We’re going to see a drop for certain’: Post-secondary institutions across Manitoba prepare for drop in international students

Post-secondary institutions across Manitoba are preparing for a drop in international student enrollment following the federal government’s plan to cap the number of those coming into Canada.

“We’re gonna see a drop for certain,” said Assiniboine Community College President, Mark Frison.

Frison said the move will have a major impact on the university’s programming, including business and early childhood education offered at the school’s Winnipeg campus.

“There’s a number of programs that we won’t be offering in the future years that we would have planned,” he said, referring to programs that operate on a cost-recovery basis. “Without the ability to fill those with international students, those offerings just won’t happen.”

On Apr. 5, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced it’s expecting to approve 291,914 international study permits across the country, down from 404,668 permits issued in 2023.

Manitoba will see a 10 per cent decrease in its international student enrolment, from 10,155 to 9,140.

“The federal government admittedly used a pretty broad tool to address some challenges that were happening in sectors, not necessarily in Manitoba,” said Education and Advanced Training Minister, Renée Cable.

The two-year cap covers study permits and provincial attestation letters, which approve student applications to post-secondary institutions but don’t guarantee spots. The IRCC’s acceptance rate for Manitoba is about 50 per cent.

“If those applications are unsuccessful in resulting in a student, that could really make the number of students dramatically lower than even the projections currently set,” Frison said.

Ottawa initially set a cap of 15,232 letters for Manitoba, but the province said it negotiated to get that number up to 18,652 – an increase of 3,420 more students.

“That will ultimately mean that we continue to welcome more international students to our province,” Cable said.

Assiniboine College is expected to receive just under 1,200.

While Frison said the situation isn’t unfair, it is unfortunate.

“If it wasn’t for immigration, Manitoba as population would be in decline,” he said. “The province has been very committed under the (Provincial Nominee Program) to use post-secondary institutions as an avenue for that immigration.”

Other post-secondary institutions including the University of Manitoba, Brandon University, the University of Winnipeg, and Red River College Polytech, told CTV News they’re still not entirely sure how the cap will impact their international student enrolment. However, they said they’re working with the federal and provincial governments to help figure that out.

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