Canada sets two-year cap on foreign students, cites housing and healthcare costs

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The Canadian government will limit the number of foreign students attending their universities for two years in order to ease pressure on the country’s housing and healthcare.

The Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced the decision Monday as an initiative ostensibly aimed at benefiting the foreign student community.

“In recent years, the integrity of the international student system has been threatened,” the ministry said in a statement. “Some institutions have significantly increased their intakes to drive revenues, and more students have been arriving in Canada without the proper supports they need to succeed.”

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Marc Miller

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marc Miller speaks during a press conference in Ottawa, Canada. (LARS HAGBERG/AFP via Getty Images)

The ministry continued, “Rapid increases in the number of international students arriving in Canada also puts pressure on housing, health care and other services.”

The two-year cap, which will start this year, will limit undergraduate study permits to approximately 360,000 individuals.

“In┬áthe spirit of fairness, individual provincial and territorial caps have been established, weighted by population, which will result in much more significant decreases in provinces where the international student population has seen the most unsustainable growth,” the ministry said regarding the cap.

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The government assured current students that permit renewals will not be affected by the new policy.

“In the coming weeks, we will no longer issue work permits to spouses of international students, apart from those in masters and doctoral programs,” Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marc Miller said on X.

The ministry is hoping to exclude professional programs in areas such as law and medicine from the cap.

Marc Miller

Marc Miller speaks to new Canadian citizens during the Oath of Citizenship special ceremony at Canada Place in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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“International students enrich our communities – but we have an obligation to ensure that they have access to the resources they need to succeed in Canada,” Miller concluded. “We will continue to implement reforms to ensure the integrity of the program and uphold the academic experience in Canada.”

The student cap marks only the latest attempt by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to grapple with skyrocketing housing prices across the country.

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Jeremy Faust is editor-in-chief of , an emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and a public health researcher. He is author of the Substack column Inside Medicine. Follow Emily Hutto is an Associate Video Producer & Editor for MedPage Today. She is based in Manhattan. In […]
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