While the COVID-19 pandemic has halted students’ aspirations to study/continue to study abroad, the government of Quebec has announced a major policy change, with the sole intent of making it viable for aspirants (desiring to begin their studies abroad) to meet program conditions.
The Quebec’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEES) allows international students, who are forced to stay in their native countries because of travel restrictions, to begin their studies online. This step intends to save the interests of around 60,000 aspirants willing to register for the Fall 2020 or Winter 2021 intake.
Because of the earlier requirement of students to stay in Quebec during their studies, in the wake of the pandemic, the institutions in Quebec faced the threat of losing government funding (that covers the operational costs and allows registration processing for international students). Pierre Cossette, the President of the Bureau de coopération inter-universitaire (BCI), shared with Radio-Canada that- “Students make their decisions in May or early June. If they [can’t come] to Quebec, they will go elsewhere in the world.”
In this regard, Quebec and Canadian governments show compliance to lift many restrictive policies affecting the eligibility criteria of previously eligible students. Additionally, as a major reform of the Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), international students can complete up to 50 per cent of their programs remotely and still get the PGWP to work in Canada post completion of their studies.
Besides, as per the announcement by the Quebec’s immigration ministry, the validity of Certificates of Acceptance of Quebec (CAQs) can be extended for those on the verge of expiry, allowing students to apply to the federal government to extend their study permit without submitting a new CAQ, thereby maintaining their temporary resident status.
The federal and provincial governments are ready to go the extra mile to support international students, owing to the gigantic contribution made by such students to the Canadian economy. International students contribute some $22 billion to Canada’s GDP each year. In Quebec, the third-largest in Canada where international students study, the contribution is $3 billion.