University professors say Ontario’s allocation of international student spots misses the big picture

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TORONTO, March 27, 2024 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations welcomed recent news that almost all international study permits will be allocated to Ontario’s publicly funded universities and colleges but warned that distributing study permits based solely on immediate labour market needs misses the big picture.

“Ontario’s public universities prepare students for the jobs and challenges of today and tomorrow, and teach vital critical thinking and research skills that drive lifelong careers,” said Nigmendra Narain, OCUFA President. “Restricting international study permits to current market needs ignores the very mission of a university education and will still perpetuate exploitative tuition practices. We urge the government to change course on this approach.”

The Minister of Colleges and Universities announced the study permit information in a news release Wednesday. The announcement also stated that colleges and universities will be required to provide housing options to accepted international students but provided no information on the process or funding allocation for meeting this requirement.

Colleges will be most affected by the change in study permit allotment, but universities will also feel the impact, said Narain.

“Universities need more funding from the government to make up for any revenue shortfalls that will come from changes to international student enrollment and tuition freezes,” he said. “Ontario universities sit last in per-student funding in the country, far below the Canadian average. This chronic underfunding affects all students—and they deserve better.”

OCUFA is especially concerned that the government’s permit allocation does not restrict international student enrollment in partnership programs between public universities and private institutions, despite reports of bad actors in similar partnerships in the college sector.

“International students offer immense benefits to Ontario’s universities, communities, and economy, and we want them to thrive on our campuses,” said Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director. “For that to happen, the government needs step up and adequately fund our public universities to allow students to take full advantage of a university education.”

Ontario presented its solutions for revitalizing Ontario’s public universities in its 2024 pre-budget submission and called for renewed investment in public universities at its Queen’s Park Advocacy Day.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents more than 18,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at  


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