New public-private partnerships between colleges and businesses will also be temporarily banned while authorities review the quality of existing models.
It follows the federal government’s decision to cap the number of study permits issued to students hoping to come to Canada in a crackdown on “unsustainable growth”.
Provincial governments, and Ontario in particular, have been in the firing line for failing to ensure colleges and universities are doing enough to support international students.
Study permits will be divided among provinces based on population size, with local governments left to decide how these are allocated among colleges and universities.
On Friday, Jill Dunlop, Ontario’s minister of colleges and universities, announced a raft of measures to “improve the integrity” of the province’s postsecondary education.
The lack of affordable student housing in Ontario has been an ongoing issue, with former immigration minister Sean Fraser pointing out last year that some institutions “have five, six times as many students enrolled as they have spaces for them in the building”.
Meanwhile, growth in Ontario’s public college market has been driven by private partnerships in recent years, with overall revenue increasing from CAN$268.2 million in 2020/21 to $420.3 million in 2021/22. Many of these institutions are mainly made up of international students, keen to stay and work in Canada.
The federal government has already excluded students enrolling in PPPs from September from post-study work visas, in a move that will threaten the entire business model of many of these institutions.
Other measures announced by Ontario include:
- A quality review of programs offered by postsecondary institutions with a sizeable amount of international students.
- Strengthening oversight of career colleges, including enhanced data management, documentation processes, and the efficacy of compliance investigations.
- Ensure programs on offer meet labour market needs so that students can work in Ontario once their education is complete.
- Working to improve the response rate to student outcome surveys to help ensure the “best academic outcomes are being achieved”.
In a statement, Dunlop said, “The challenges stemming from the recent spike in students coming to Canada, including predatory practices by bad-actor recruiters, misinformation regarding citizenship and permanent residency, false promises of guaranteed employment, and inadequate housing for students, require immediate attention and collaborative action.
“At the same time, we need to strengthen the links between Ontario’s labour market needs and the programs being offered to students so we can get even more people into rewarding careers in health care and the skilled trades.”