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Victoria university sees feds’ international student cap as an ‘opportunity’

80% of Royal Roads’ international students are grad students who are unaffected by the new cap
Royal Roads University views the international student permit cap as an opportunity to attract students. (Ella Matte/News Staff)

The federal government’s decision to cap the number of international student permits over the next two years has Royal Roads University seeing an opportunity.

Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp said that while the post-secondary institution is waiting to see how the changes will directly impact the school, it could still allow for a way to attract students. Among the federal changes is the opportunity for graduate students to be eligible for a three-year post-grad work permit, he said.

“Unlike most other institutions, we have more graduate students that are international than we do undergrad. So there’s actually in some way there’s a bit of an opportunity for us … I think that will be attractive to a number of individuals,” Steenkamp said.

The federal cap only impacts undergraduate degrees and Steenkamp said that 80 per cent of Royal Roads’ international students are graduate students.

READ MORE: New admissions cap will cut international student visas by 35 per cent

Although the cap could mean a promising future for Royal Roads, that doesn’t mean the new changes don’t come without challenges.

Steenkamp is concerned that the federal government’s announcement will not be well-received internationally.

“If the news is transmitted internationally that Canada is putting a cap on international students, well that can deter some students from even applying. So this is why we have to get out the message really clearly that we are still open for business.”

During the federal announcement, Ottawa called out, “bad actor” educational intuitions, addressing some schools for taking advantage of international students.

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller said some schools are exploiting international students by “operating under-resourced campuses, lacking support for students and charging high tuition fees, all the while increasing their intake of international students.”

Steenkamp believes it’s “fair criticism” and largely agrees with Miller. He said there are some operators, primarily private schools, who are not providing the kind of quality programming and level of student services and supports they should be providing

“I would say when you turn to the public institutions, we’ve got a long track record, high-quality programming, and wraparound services.”

Steenkamp emphasized the importance of international student treatment in both public and private schools.

“We constantly need to be making sure that international students are getting value for their money when they come here.”

In a statement from Camosun College, it said it has a responsibility to ensure all students feel welcome and supported while also ensuring that international students are not taken advantage of during their time in Canada.

Camosun College and the University of Victoria are still looking into how the cap will directly impact their own intuitions.

UVic told Black Press Media in a statement there “many details” about the new caps that still need to be determined by the province, in consultation with post-secondary institutions and national organizations like Universities Canada and the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

“Unfortunately, it is too early to tell how these new caps might impact UVic. We look forward to working with the province on the next steps.”

UVic has an International Centre for Students that provides international support services, information, and programs for students from pre-arrival to program completion. Additionally, UVic recently opened two new on-campus residence buildings to address the housing challenges within Greater Victoria. Nearby the campus, a University Heights development is being constructed with more housing.

READ MORE: New UVic residence provides housing to hundreds of students

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“We’re in the planning stages for a mixed-use university district near campus and we are actively exploring more on-campus housing options,” said UVic in a statement. “All of this, in addition to our first-year housing guarantee (which applies to both domestic and international students), means that more international students at UVic have the opportunity to build community through the transformational experience of living on or near the UVic campus.”

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About the Author: Ella Matte

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