An Air Canada plane flies over hotels near Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ont., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Many international students have postponed or cancelled their plans to study in Canada since Ottawa decided last month to limit entry options to the country to just four airports and require all international travellers to pay up to $2,000 for a COVID-19 mandatory hotel stopover. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Canada’s schools draw fewer international students due to pandemic travel rules

OTTAWA — Many international students have postponed or cancelled their plans to study in Canada since Ottawa decided last month to limit entry options to the country to just four airports and require international travellers to pay for a mandatory hotel quarantine.

Denise Amyot, the chief executive officer of Colleges and Institutes Canada, said a $2,000 hotel bill is the cost of half of a semester for many students.

“(They) don’t have that kind of means,” she said.

If a group of international students are heading to New Brunswick, for example, Amyot said they might arrive in Toronto, where they would go to a hotel for three days as part of a 14-day quarantine.

Then, because they will be moving to another province with its own rules, they will have to quarantine again for 14 days when they arrive in New Brunswick.

“This is nonsense. It just doesn’t make sense,” she said. “It means that for the spring and summer, we have a large number of deferrals.”

Amyot said the number of international students at Canadian colleges has declined by 20 to 30 per cent in the 2020-21 academic year compared to 2019-20.

“It has varied across the country, and we had larger declines in smaller cities and rural and remote areas.”

She said many international students are deferring their plans to study in Canada since the federal government funnelled all international flights to Toronto, Montreal, Calgary or Vancouver and began requiring travellers to quarantine at government-approved hotels.

“Those two measures that the government has put in place are jeopardizing the number of students arriving,” she said.

Amyot called on the government to exempt international students from the three-day stopover requirement.

The office of Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement that any decision to ease or modify border measures in Canada will be based on scientific evidence.

“Entry prohibitions, coupled with mandatory isolation and quarantine, continue to be the most effective means of limiting the introduction of new cases of COVID-19 into Canada at this time,” the statement said.

Even before the new entry restrictions were imposed, the total number of all international students in Canada had already declined by about 17 per cent last year, to 531,000 students at the end of 2020 from 639,000 in 2019, according to an analysis of Statistics Canada data.

Paul Davidson, the chief executive officer of Universities Canada, said the overall enrolment of international students at Canadian universities has declined by 2.1 per cent this year compared to last.

“It’s against a backdrop where typically the number of international students at universities has grown at over 10 per cent in each of the last five years, so it is quite a setback,” he said.

“We have 96 universities at Universities Canada, and 51 of those institutions saw a decline in the international students … Overall, 26 institutions saw a loss of over 10 per cent of their international students.”

Fewer international students in Canadian post-secondary schools means less revenue for these institutions, which will affect domestic students, said Amyot.

“It means that there will be less programs that can be offered,” she said.

“It’s not only a matter of dollars … There are some programs that are very popular with international students, but not so much for domestic students, and that’s especially in more technical areas linked to engineering or mining … Now (these programs) won’t be offered, because there’s not enough students.”

Amyot said the decrease in international student numbers will eventually create a gap in the labour force in Canada.

“(International students) also come with skills,” she said. “It means that there will be a gap because we won’t be able to count on those students, and who will suffer? The industry, because there will be a labor shortage.”

She said Canadian colleges and universities have used innovation to allow international students to complete their studies online.

Robert Falconer, a researcher at the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, said international students studying online at Canadian schools from their home countries might lose interest in immigrating to Canada.

“They might decide, after getting their Canadian degree, that they’re not going to really bother coming to Canada because they’ve never been, they don’t have prospects here and no social network or job opportunities.”

Amyot said education institutions had quarantine plans in the fall for their international students, letting them go to their quarantine locations safely. Local public health authorities and the provincial and federal governments approved.

“It was working very well for the fall intake, but now with this new measure that was taken in place, everything is in the air,” she said.

Davidson said all international students, from kindergartners to PhDs, contribute about $22 billion a year to Canada’s economy.

“It’s a major contributor to Canada’s economic growth,” he said. “The decline in international student numbers is having a widespread economic impact in Canada.”

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said the government has encouraged international students to stay in Canada during the pandemic.

“While other countries told international students to go home during the pandemic, we went to great lengths to support them and create a system that allowed them to continue their studies,” Alexander Cohen said in a statement.

The department has tried to make it easier for international students to apply for work permits after they graduate, including counting the time they spend studying online toward the period of time needed to make them eligible, for instance.

Davidson said the United States is reducing barriers to immigration for international students and the government of the United Kingdom is marketing to international students and expediting visa processing for them.

“This is a competitive landscape we’re working in,” he said. “The government of the U.K. is offering guaranteed visa approvals (for international students) in about three weeks, which is much faster than Canada.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

.
3-hour paid leave for Albertans to get vaccinated in the works

The UCP government intends to introduce legislation that will ensure working Albertans… Continue reading

Alberta completed 18,412 COVID-19 tests, as reported on Wednesday, for a test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Highest daily count of 2021 so far: Alberta reports 1,699 COVID-19 cases

Variants now make up 59 per cent of Alberta’s active cases

Several cases of COVID-19 were reported among employees of stores at Bower Place Mall. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
COVID-19 cases reported at Bower Place mall stores

AHS said five complaints were investigated since March, and required changes made

Edmonton Eskimos' Tanner Green, right, knocks the ball from Calgary Stampeders' Romar Morris during first half CFL football action in Calgary in 2019. Green has been waiting for nearly 17 months to get back on the field with the Edmonton Football Team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lacombe’s Tanner Green happy to finally see a CFL return to play date

CFL announced Wednesday league will return on Aug. 5

Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall was used as a vaccination clinic on Wednesday. A steady stream of people came to get their COVID-19 shots either by appointment or as walk-ins. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
No long lineups at walk-in vaccination site in Red Deer

A steady stream of people walked into Westerner Park on Wednesday to… Continue reading

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Iran's president on Wednesday called Tehran's decision to enrich uranium up to 60% after saboteurs attacked a nuclear site "an answer to your evilness," linking the incident to ongoing talks in Vienna over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
US outlines possible sanctions relief for Iran in nuke talks

US outlines possible sanctions relief for Iran in nuke talks

Activists hope Chauvin convictions are start to real change

Activists hope Chauvin convictions are start to real change

CORRECTS THAT PHOTOGRAPHS ARE OF TRANSGENDERED WOMEN KILLED OVER THE YEARS, NOT PEOPLE WHO DIED BY POLICE VIOLENCE - A backstop at Cal Anderson Park is covered, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Seattle, with photographs of transgendered women who have been killed in the past years. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times via AP)
Grim list of deaths at police hands grows even after verdict

Grim list of deaths at police hands grows even after verdict

FILE - This file image made from a video aired Friday, Jan. 7, 2005, by Israeli television station Channel 10, shows what the television station claims is Israel's top secret nuclear facility in the southern Israeli town of Dimona, the first detailed video of the site ever shown to the public. The Israeli military said that a missile was fired into Israel from neighboring Syria early Thursday, April 22, 2021, and that it has struck targets in Syria in response. Earlier, air raid sirens sounded in Dimona, the Negev town that is home to Israel's secretive nuclear reactor, indicating a possible incoming attack. (Channel 10 via AP, File)
Israel says it strikes targets in Syria after missile attack

Israel says it strikes targets in Syria after missile attack

FILE - In this July 8, 2014, file photo, is a sign alerting visitors to water conservation efforts at the state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared an emergency executive order in two Northern California counties in response to drought conditions affecting much of the state. The announcement Wednesday, April 21, 2021, affects Mendocino and Sonoma counties, where Newsom says drought conditions are especially bad. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
California governor declares drought emergency in 2 counties

California governor declares drought emergency in 2 counties

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou's extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, makes an announcement regarding the protection of children from online sexual exploitation during a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, Aug 6, 2019. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed former Liberal minister Goodale as high commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Coming G7, climate meetings will be ‘pivotal,’ says Goodale, Canada’s new rep in U.K.

Coming G7, climate meetings will be ‘pivotal,’ says Goodale, Canada’s new rep in U.K.

A Cargill sign is shown at one of its meat-processing plants in Chambly, Que., on Sunday, May 10, 2020. A vaccination clinic for thousands of workers at a southern Alberta beef-packing plant has been postponed due to a delay in a shipment of the Moderna vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Site of COVID outbreak last year: Vaccination clinic at Alberta beef plant postponed

Site of COVID outbreak last year: Vaccination clinic at Alberta beef plant postponed

Most Read