A decision by the Québec government to terminate pathways for international students from private colleges will have a huge impact on students from India. Graduates were previously allowed to pursue post-graduate work opportunities, which can ultimately lead to permanent residency in Canada.
The Québec and Canadian governments jointly announced the move this week, following last year’s investigation into “questionable practices” at several private colleges. The new rule takes effect in September 2023.
Audits by the Québec Ministry of Higher Education found major issues with “certain unsubsidised private colleges.” Minister Danielle McCann said that the investigation revealed “questionable practices in terms of recruitment, business practices, governance and teaching conditions”.
Three private colleges owned by the same company, M College, CDE College and CCSQ, filed for creditor protection this year after accepting tuition payments from students. M College and CDE had previously been temporarily prohibited from enrolling international students after being called out for questionable recruiting practices in India.
The colleges emerged from creditor protection after being purchased by an Ontario-based private college, Cestar. The PIE reached out to Cestar but a request for comment was not returned.
“Canada recognises the tremendous social, cultural and economic benefits that international students bring to this country,” Sean Fraser, the Canadian minister of immigration, said in a news release announcing the decision.
“It is important to take action to protect the integrity of our immigration programs”
“Making the change that Québec requested to post-graduation work permit eligibility will improve the integrity of the program, bring Québec’s private institutions further in line with those of other provinces and protect our well-deserved reputation as a destination of choice for international students.”
In the joint news release, Québec immigration minister Jean Boulet said, “It is important to take action to protect the integrity of our immigration programs, which must promote sustainable integration into Québec society. These adjustments will help attract international students to come study in all regions of Québec and ensure that Québec is not used as a gateway for settling in other provinces.”
The National Association of Career Colleges condemned the move, saying it was “very disappointed”. CEO Michael Sangster said in a statement: “Regulated career colleges play an important role in the Québec and Canadian economies, both of which are in desperate need of skilled workers to fill labour gaps in critical industries. This measure is a step backward in our country’s international student policy and economic recovery.”