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Canada fund hike “likely won’t change anything”

Stakeholders in Canada’s higher education sector have mixed feelings about the recent news that the IRCC will hike the amount needed for proof of funds for international students.

Universities Canada suggested the threshold might be better suited to vary by area. Photo: Pexels

Universities Canada made the point that cost of living differs across the country

Immigration minister Marc Miller announced on December 7 that the amount needed in bank accounts for international students wishing to study in the country would rise from $10,000 CAD to $20,635 CAD.

Universities Canada acknowledged the financial requirements for a study permit up to this point “have not accurately reflected the cost of living in some areas of Canada”.

“The $10,000 financial minimum was established in the early 2000s and should be adjusted to reflect today’s cost of living,” the organisation’s spokesperson said.

However, the organisation made the point that cost of living differs across the country, and suggested that “this needs to be considered when evaluating the finances required to live in different regions”.

“Canada’s universities always endeavour to provide accurate and transparent information to prospective international students on the cost of studying and living in their communities,” the spokesperson said.

Colleges and Institutes Canada agreed that it is reasonable to adjust the proof-of-funds requirement in line with rising living costs, but said the change is likely to impact student demand.

“The current threshold was often insufficient in many cases,” a spokesperson said.

“We emphasise the importance of IRCC working with provinces and institutions to make it still possible for deserving students with more modest means to demonstrate sufficient funds.”

Other issues surrounding the fund hike have also been pointed out.

Migrant Students United, which represents international students in Canada, said the move would “exclude prospecting working class students worldwide”.

“They will now be scrambling in the next three weeks to find an extra $10,000 dollars,” said national organiser, Sarom Rho.

The founder of Heron Law Offices – an immigration law firm in Vancouver – Wei William, made the point that exchange rates would play a big part in the inclusiveness of international student ability to pay.

“I can’t help but think of how with global currencies the way they are, how much this might alter the ability of applicants from the Global South to attend Canadian universities and colleges – [with] less [international] students likely [having] less funds for international student scholarships,” William commented.

Alex Usher, chief at Higher Education Strategy Associates, told The PIE News he wasn’t sure the move would “change anything”.

He cited The PIE’s reports on agents who deposit money in students’ accounts to make it look like they have the money to study in Canada before taking it out again.

Consultant Don Whitford, commenting on LinkedIn, also made a similar point – and said it also happens in his homeland of Australia.

“Great move but….Students do not need to arrive in Canada or Australia with any money ‘actually in the bank accounts’, they just need to “show it” to get the Visas.

“One day this will have to change, otherwise some students will continue to be exploited and struggle when job opportunities reduce,” Whitford noted.

“Students do not need to arrive in Canada or Australia with any money ‘actually in the bank accounts'”

Another part of the package of announcements made by Miller was the extension of the uncapped work rights policy – which will now instead end on April 30 2024. According to Rho, the extension simply isn’t enough, as she joined others in calling for further allowances.

“Federal immigration policy is a roller coaster, the 20-hour work permit rule was removed after migrant student workers spoke up but just for four months.

“We don’t need monthly improvisations and chaotic twists that let exploitation and abuse continue; we will continue to speak up for stable, fair rules and permanent residency for all,” Rho added.

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