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Looking Beyond Caps: Strategies for Improving Canada’s International Student Program

By February 4, 2024 March 21st, 2024 No Comments

Canada’s International Student Program (ISP) has always been a focal point of interest, encouraging many international students to study in reputed Canadian educational institutions. According to the National Statistics Office of Canada, in 2021, over 621,565 international students possessed study permits for various study levels. However, as the global education sector transforms, there is a pressing need to look beyond traditional caps and quotas to ensure that Canada remains a top destination among international students. This blog will discuss various strategies to improve Canada’s international student programs.

Factors Driving the Introduction of an International Student Cap in Canada

One of the primary reasons behind the Canadian government’s decision to implement an international student cap is the growing housing shortage. It’s worth mentioning that Canada has experienced a high surge in international students over the years. As a result, the country is experiencing a severe shortage of residential properties, resulting in astronomical rental costs. 

Additionally, the implementation of an international student cap in Canada is motivated by concerns over the integrity of Canada’s international student programs. Few private institutions have taken unfair advantage of international students by running illegitimate degree programs, charging substantial tuition fees, and leaving students without adequate support and assistance. This is another significant reason underscoring the need for regulatory measures such as the 2-year cap announcement for study visas in Canada safeguarding the interest of international students.

Strategies for Improving Canada’s International Student Program

A few strategies can help enhance Canada’s international student programs. Here are some of the strategies that you must know: 

  1. Adopting Expression of Interest (EOI) model

Expression of Interest, also known as (EOI) can be a sophisticated alternative to caps, revolutionizing the student programs in Canada. This model indicates selecting students based on Canada’s economic needs and societal obligations through a targeted, evidence-based approach. It furthermore suggests that the government must develop flexible policies with the help of widespread consultation, aiming to create a more targeted and efficient approach to international student selection. In this model, all applicants are required to file an EOI in various defined categories, and evaluation will be based on the following: 

  1. Educational history, including previous degrees, grades
  2. Language proficiency
  3. Financial sufficiency
  4. Alignment with in-demand streams, academic institutions, etc. 

This model is distinguished by its inclusivity of new streams designed to address both domestic and international needs:

  • Streamlined and adaptable study permit pathway tailored for high-demand occupations.
  • The distinction between college and university streams should rely not solely on disincentives but on domestic and international needs and obligations.
  • Enhancing the Provincial and Municipal Study Permit Stream to involve distinct levels of government more directly, rather than relying solely on a vague attestation letter process for select applicants. 

The allocation of points to applicants and issuing Invitations to Apply (ITAs) will be based on these criteria, alongside considerations for caps and other regulatory measures. This ensures a transparent and equitable process, aiming to mitigate backlog issues by clearing unselected applicants efficiently, thus aligning with real-time needs and promoting a dynamic response to global educational trends.

Incentives for students and educational institutions are proposed to be directly tied to clear objectives, including pathways to permanent residency, labour market outcomes, and the integrity of admissions. This comprehensive restructuring is not merely about limiting numbers but enhancing the quality and relevance of Canada’s ISP to its economic and social landscapes.

The call for a broad consultation underscores the necessity to expand and diversify study permit categories, addressing a broader spectrum of migration motives and ensuring the ISP’s responsiveness to evolving global and domestic contexts. Effective communication strategies are deemed essential for setting realistic expectations and minimizing discrimination, advocating for a modernized, holistic approach to international education in Canada.

  1. Streamline the Visa Process

Like other countries, studying in Canada requires a study visa/permit. Obtaining a study permit can be considered a challenging and slow process. Such a process demands extensive paperwork, contributing to a complex application process. In such cases, the Canadian Government must streamline the visa process to attract more and more students every year. 


Transitioning from caps to an Expression of Interest model marks a crucial shift in Canada’s international student program, aligning selection with evolving needs. By simplifying visas, Canada can solidify its position as a top destination for international students, benefiting society and its global stature. 

In navigating these transformative changes, Immigrationway stands out as an indispensable partner for students. With our comprehensive immigration services and commitment to student success, our team is fully equipped to help students seize the expanded opportunities and navigate the streamlined processes effectively. Get in touch with us today!