Building a Sustainable and Inclusive International Student Program in Canada: Proposed Solutions for Long-Term Success


Prepared by Lou Janssen Dangzalan, CILA Board Member and Founder of LJD Law, with research credits to Christopher Porras.

Canada has seen a notable rise in international student enrollment in recent years, bringing both opportunities and challenges. Immigration Minister Marc Miller’s announcement of a two-year cap on new foreign student permits highlights the need for sustainable solutions to maintain the program’s effectiveness. CILA has always and will continue to advocate for effective measures to the challenges and issues facing our immigration system. Below are key points we urge the Minister and IRCC to consider:

Temporary Cap and Alternative Measures

While we understand the purpose of the temporary two-year cap on international student intake, we question its necessity. Alternative measures, such as imposing stricter English and French proficiency requirements, could have achieved similar results without the flair and drama that a cap entails. We commend the decision to raise financial thresholds, as many international students in Canada are taken aback by the actual cost of living upon arrival in their destination cities. Additionally, implementing a stricter warning system for Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) could help maintain a sustainable balance, i.e., if a given DLI’s proportion of international students vis-a-vis domestic students is beyond a ratio that is seen as sustainable, this should automatically trigger a review.

Balanced Approach and Future Outlook

While recent measures aim to stabilize student intake and address resource allocation and educational quality concerns, a balanced approach is essential. Efficient implementation of these measures could eliminate the need for future caps or quotas. We anticipate these actions will effectively manage international student intake without further restrictions in the future.

Navigating the Core Challenges: Comprehensive Strategies for Program Integrity

Higher English and French Test Requirements

Setting a higher English and French proficiency requirement equivalent to a CLB 6 or 7 at minimum (academic) ensures students possess the necessary language skills for academic success. This will also ensure that international students can communicate effectively with their peers and professors, enhancing the quality of education.

International Student – DLI Warning System

A rigorous warning system for Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) should be implemented to ensure that institutions maintain standards and integrity when admitting international students. This should include monitoring the ratio of international students to domestic students and their compliance with regulations such as attendance. The IRCC should conduct regular reviews to ensure sustained adherence to these regulations. These reviews will verify compliance with study permit regulations, ensuring international students are actively engaged in their studies. By incentivizing institutions to maintain standards and integrity, compliance among international students can be promoted.

Ban Commissions to Agents

Prohibiting agent commissions for recruiting international students discourages prioritizing quantity over quality, ensuring genuine representation and reducing fraudulent applications.

Use of Lawyers in Representation

We encourage the department to adopt a nuanced approach with respect to applicants hiring lawyers as their representatives. Lawyers belong to effective regulatory bodies that enforce rules, fostering compliance and strengthening program integrity in the long run.


While the recent cap on new foreign student permits addresses immediate concerns, it is a temporary solution. Adopting measures like higher English and French proficiency requirements, increased financial thresholds, stricter DLI oversight, banning agent commissions, and advocating for a nuanced approach to lawyers standing as counsel to applicants enhances program integrity and sustainability in the long term. This proactive approach will enable Canada to attract global talent while maintaining high standards.

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