Adapting to Changes in the Policy and Global Landscape annual report"> Adapting to Changes in the Policy and Global Landscape" /> Adapting to Changes in the Policy and Global Landscape – Colleges and Institutes Canada Annual Report

Adapting to Changes in the Policy and Global Landscape

Ensuring the International Student Program’s integrity and success
Throughout 2023-2024, international students were at the forefront of news media attention. Initial reports shed light on the challenges many international students face, including housing, affordability, and pathways to meaningful careers. Throughout, CICan remained resolute in our commitment to effectively collaborate with the federal government on policy matters concerning the integrity and success of the International Student Program while advocating for our members’ interests and the public good of these students to Canada and our communities.

We engaged in ongoing discussions with key federal departments, notably Immigration and Refugees and Citizenship of Canada (IRCC), to shape an approach that would better align international student outcomes with the availability of community and institutional support, labour market demands, and diversify the source countries of international students to enhance Canada’s global standing.

Throughout the latter half of the year, there was a sharpened public focus on the growing numbers of international students in Canada and its perceived impact on housing and affordability for all Canadians. In response, the Government of Canada announced its decision to implement a two-year cap on international student visas on January 22, 2024, and implement a system of provincial letters of attestation. CICan expressed our concerns about the cap and its rushed implementation via a formal response and an open letter to Marc Miller, the Minister of Immigration, highlighting its potential widespread and long-lasting consequences for both Canadian and international students and Canadian communities. Our new CEO, Pari Johnston, also penned an op-ed in the Toronto Star, emphasizing the urgent need to refocus public policy and federal-provincial discussions on sustainably funding Canada’s colleges and universities to drive the country’s long-term growth, productivity, and innovation.

In the face of unprecedented and sweeping changes to Canada’s approach to immigration policy, we were relentless in our support for members through constant advocacy, policy dialogue and resources to help the sector navigate this very challenging landscape. We held over twenty meetings with the government on immigration, shared IRCC study permit acceptance data with members for informed enrolment decisions, hosted member town halls to share information, worked to coordinate efforts with the regional college associations and other post-secondary education stakeholders, and met with the Minister at our November 2023 Board meeting and in February 2024.

Our priority: to ensure that the evolving international student policy framework remains accessible and inclusive and is reflective of college and institute realities and needs. This includes active member engagement, consultation and CICan input on the Recognized Institutions Framework (RIF), which IRCC announced in late 2023 with plans to launch the final feedback survey in late spring 2024. We have made similar efforts to inform and shape coming reforms to the Post-Graduate Work Permit program.

Promoting the vital importance of the college and institute sector to Canada’s – and the world’s – biggest challenges

Over the year, CICan ramped up efforts to highlight the crucial role of colleges and institutes to Canada’s future and advocate for their continued success. Pari participated in a pre-budget roundtable on skills and innovation with Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, and addressed the House of Commons Standing Committee on Science and Research. She urged the federal government to reimagine the role of colleges and institutes in the broader research and innovation ecosystem. Despite their demonstrated expertise in driving impact, particularly in translating research into innovation, colleges and institutes receive only 2.9% of federal research funds. To maximize their potential in addressing national challenges such as housing and climate adaptation, the government, she argued, should adopt a challenge-driven research approach that centres the college and institute sector and provide scaled investments.

Internationally, we also focused on addressing key challenges related to workforce development, climate change, and energy transition in partner countries through college partnerships on education for employment. In alignment with our national efforts, we continue to champion the college and institute sector by actively contributing to UNESCO-UNEVOC and sharing educational resources including:

Our work promoting the public value of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs abroad is exemplified by our Young Africa Works in Kenya-TVET program Through our implementing partner, BBC Media Action, radio programs were developed in Kenya to raise awareness about the importance of TVET education and institutions to national workforce development. These efforts have led to a significant shift in perception and attitude among students and guardians, increasing enrolment rates.

The TVET program on Radio Kaya helped me decide to join Weru. I heard students and teachers being interviewed on the courses they were taking in the institution and college life there in general. I also learned that the institution was well-equipped which I didn’t know before. I became interested and applied to pursue Electrical Engineering. I also got to learn about financing opportunities such as Higher Education Leaners Board loans and how to benefit. I have since applied for the loan and now waiting for the approval. I enjoy going to school at Weru.

– Musa Hinzano, a 21-year-old student at Weru Technical Training Institute pursuing a Certificate in Electrical Engineering

We also secured new partnerships to support the green transition abroad, such as delivering avionics and electromobility (electric vehicles) training to a partner in Mexico through Centennial College. This initiative aims to inspire more students to pursue careers in these fields, fostering both workplace development and a response to climate change through the promotion of sustainable technologies and practices.

With Universities Canada, we launched the first 14 scholarship projects in 2024 through our Canadian International Development Scholarships (BCDI 2030) program designed to strengthen the social and economic development of women and men — particularly women — in 26 eligible francophone countries, Commonwealth countries and Small Island Developing States. Each scholarship means another student will have the opportunity to contribute to each of the principles behind the goals – including gender equality, human rights, and climate action – and lead change in their community.

Lastly, we launched a new approach to capture the impacts of our Education for Employment (EFE) projects, aiming to better document our work and share best practices. The EFE-Pacific Alliance and EFE-Tunisia Impact Stories are the first in our ongoing series of impact narratives.

Advocacy Impact of Colleges and Institutes Canada in 2023-2024

Our 2023-2024 efforts delivered significant Budget wins, ensuring that colleges and institutes are at the forefront of addressing Canada’s urgent challenges and equipped with the resources necessary for success. Through strategic partnerships, our collaborative work resulted in pivotal achievements announced in the 2024 Federal Budget, including:

  • ongoing funding for the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) and the Innovative Work-Integrated Learning (I-WIL) program;
  • expansion of federal student debt forgiveness to additional professions in the care economy and a government commitment to funding youth mental health services in tandem with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and Universities Canada;
  • post-secondary institution eligibility in the Apartment Construction Loan Program and the removal of the GST from new student housing projects for our members;
  • new funding for First Nations students through the post-secondary student support program;
  • the recapitalization of the Apprenticeship Service and securing additional federal funding for the national promotion of the trades; and
  • temporary new funding for Technology Access Centres and Quebec College Centres for Technology Transfer.

These advocacy milestones are a testament to our unwavering commitment to ensuring that Canada recognizes and harnesses the pivotal role of colleges and institutes in tackling challenges and driving economic growth.

CICan by the Numbers: Our Impact

138 members & 18 associates

10 Canadian projects, 100 members participating

10 international projects, 60 members participating

13 countries projects delivered in

10 distinct funders across Canadian and international projects

$409M total value of CICan’s portfolio, $137M for Canadian programs and $272 for International Projects