International Student Visa Cap will not Address Chronic Underfunding

President’s Update


January 25th, 2024

International Student Visa Cap will not Address Chronic Underfunding

The recently announced two-year caps for international student visas in Canada further exemplify international students being scapegoated for the ongoing crises for education, healthcare, and housing. These crises are of successive Canadian governments’ own making, stemming from the chronic defunding of public infrastructure. Pinning blame on people who arrive in Canada as students–and who pay substantially higher tuition than others, pay all the same taxes as anyone else, and add to local economies by paying rent and purchasing daily needs, and yet who cannot vote–is a particularly cynical move by the government. 

As stated in Information Bulletion 2022/23:58 from the MUNFA Executive, “MUNFA is incredibly concerned about xenophobic policies that will further impact exploited international students who typically pay far higher tuition fees, often to make up for governments’ ongoing defunding of public higher education (see here, here, and here).”

Education is a public right that must be protected without limitations or restrictions. The continuous exploitation of international students has devastating impacts not only on students but also on MUNFA members. As public education budgets continue to be slashed in favour of mining students as sources of profit and funds to make up for structural budget cuts by the government, MUNFA members are experiencing an ever-increasing workload at an under-resourced public institution.

In a CAUT Statement on January 22nd, Executive Director David Robinson stated “We’ve created a marketized system of international recruitment driven almost entirely by financial interests, rather than guided by educational values. It is a failed strategy, and it is time for a serious discussion about how both the federal and provincial governments should be better supporting public universities and colleges.” Public education is infrastructure for public life.

The MUNFA Executive stands in solidarity with international students impacted by these visa changes and adamantly disagrees that this cap will be effective at addressing the crises it is supposedly meant to solve.

Josh Lepawsky

Professor of Geography and MUNFA President