International graduates of career colleges should have opportunity to work in Canada
TheStar.com – opinion/editorialopinion
Date: 5 August 2012. Serge Buy
Canada has a well-deserved reputation for high quality post-secondary education. And this reputation makes us a destination for international students. But there’s little protection for those students once they arrive in Canada.
The government of Canada recently announced its intention to introduce stricter rules for international students seeking to study in Canada. The National Association of Career Colleges applauds the federal government initiative and hopes that it will enable its career college members to take a more active role in this sector, attracting high calibre students from around the world.
The proposed changes are intended to ensure that foreign students who obtain study permits enter Canada for the purpose of study. Currently, there is no monitoring of international students once they arrive in Canada. The new rules would also ensure that schools hosting international students are permitted to do so.
The regulations will harmonize efforts at the federal and provincial government levels to protect international students and ensure they receive a high-quality education. Governments will create lists of educational institutions that meet established standards and are eligible to host international students.
Private career colleges are an important part of this country’s education system and must be included on the lists of eligible institutions. This would allow international students to continue to benefit from the hands-on training offered by Canada’s career colleges.
And once they’ve learned the necessary skills, it’s important to allow international students to practice what they have learned in a Canadian setting. However, the postgraduate work permit program is currently available only to international students registered in Canadian public institutions. It’s unfair for students and penalizes career colleges as they are unable to offer a meaningful work experience to students.
This could change with the announced review of government regulations. The development of lists of educational institutions able to receive international students should also include eligibility for postgraduate work permits.
Career colleges have existed since the 1800s in Canada. Millions of students have graduated in hundreds of colleges across the country. Students at career colleges learn a wide range of skills that prepare them for exciting careers.
Although career colleges receive no government funding, provincial governments regulate the sector, providing protection for all students. As stakeholders, we participated in the drafting of these regulations, some of which are tougher than those imposed on public institutions.
As provincial governments draft the list of eligible institutions, we hope they will respect those regulations.
Indeed, it would be of concern to us if provincial governments decided that education offered in regulated institutions under their jurisdiction was good enough for Canadian students but not for international students.
It is clear that the current system for international students in Canada needs improvement to ensure that those entering the country follow through on their studies and adhere to the term of their study visas.
Canadian career colleges look forward to working with all levels of government to meet economic development objectives and immigration goals by bringing more international students to our country.
Serge Buy is chief executive officer of the National Association of Career Colleges.