By Dylan Freeman- Grist
International students are set to benefit from increased subsidies and a more easy-going student visa process according to an announcement made by international trade minister, Ed Fast, at Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone on Jan. 15.
The benefits are part of the federal government’s new “International Education Strategy” and include a promise to allow international students the possibility of seeking part-time work off campus sooner.
Currently, a lengthy visa process is often necessary before the federal government grants students this permission.
Aside from strict requirements, the student visa application and renewal process, which requires students to temporarily forfeit their passport, is often riddled with delays and setbacks.
Along with the complex study permit process, international students currently pay approximately twice as much for their tuition as Canadian students.
“It’s terrible if you don’t get a scholarship because you can’t afford anything else,” Vanessa Sako, a first-year interior design student who moved to Toronto from Rome for her education, said. “For my program it is $25,000 [per year].”
Fast assures that this will be done without “displacing Canadian students.” However, Ryerson president Sheldon Levy disagrees, stating that universities would have to expand facilities to accomodate students.
“We know that there are so many programs at the university that we cannot accommodate all the students [who] really want to attend,” Levy said. “If you’re going to increase international students you have to be very careful that as you increase, you’re not displacing those students [who] are domestic students whose families have paid taxes with expectations of their children getting an education.”
Levy believes the province needs to provide universities with the resources to expand in order to accomodate more students.
“What we heard was simply that the federal government has the desire to increase international students is a good thing, but we haven’t heard anything from the province that has to foot the bill on the expansion of the university,” Levy said.
This plan targets “priority” countries, such as China, India and Brazil. Ryerson receives anywhere between 68,000 to 70,000 applications a year for approximately 7,000 first-year spots.
Fast plans to double the amount of international students pursuing their post-secondary degrees in Canada to over 450,000 by 2022.
In 2012, Canada played host to more than 265,000 international students. This number is up 94 per cent since 2001.
Currently, Ryerson has aproximatly 1,700 international students from over 100 countries. International students pay anywhere from $20,270 to $23,637 in tuition fees.