CHAOS in the Ministry of Advanced Education is leaving international students in limbo and threatening British Columbia’s international education industry, says New Democrat Advanced Education Critic David Eby.
“Students thinking about coming to B.C. to study are being put on hold because the B.C. Liberal government has so far failed to comply with new federal government visa rules,” said Eby on Tuesday. “It has been a full year since the B.C. Liberals received notice that the system was changing, yet students still don’t know if the B.C. school they’ve chosen will qualify them for a student visa.”
The federal government has asked the provinces to establish a list of “approved” schools where accepted international students will qualify for study visas. The final deadline for provinces to establish the approved list is in less than six months, yet B.C. schools still don’t know what information they’ll need to provide to the province to qualify, or how long the approval process will take before they can tell students they’re on the green list.
“On December 28, 2012, the federal government announced these visa rule changes. Now, more than a year later, B.C. schools still have no idea how the new rules will be implemented. The deafening silence from the government is feeding a sense of doom among B.C. schools that the government has completely dropped the ball,” said Eby.
“This government promised to increase international students by 50 per cent by 2016 – instead, we’ve had nine ministers in the last ten years and a complete lack of leadership from the premier on this file.”
Eby noted that schools are unable to budget or plan for upcoming semesters without knowing whether their students will be turned away at the border.
“Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the way that colleges and universities work knows that students apply for admission well before the start date of their programs,” said Eby.
“For international students, this issue is compounded by the delay in student visa approvals in many countries. If the B.C. Liberals wait until the last minute to comply with these regulations, or create new rules that cause our schools to miss the federal deadline entirely, all of us will pay the price when B.C.’s international reputation takes a serious hit.”