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Canada welcoming foreign PhD students as permanent residents

After having set a course for greater international marketing of Canadian universities (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, August 2011), Canada’s government is now opting for easier pathways for foreign students to apply for permanent residency. In this spirit, a new initiative aimed at attracting and retaining international PhD students was unveiled early in November by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and the Minister of State for Science and Technology.

Under the new framework, PhD students who have completed two years of a doctoral programme and are in good standing at a recognised institution can apply for permanent residency under the skilled-workers programme. Graduates who are a year out of their programme are also eligible. Up to 1 000 international PhD students are expected to be accepted every year as permanent residents through the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

The universities and colleges in Canada have welcomed the new decision, which would provide them with one more competitive edge in the global market for academic talent. Foreign students already account for about a quarter of all PhD students at Canadian universities. The other side of the coin, however, is the growing concern about the fraudulent use of student visas. To address these concerns, some additional steps (for example, checks on the actual attendance of classes by foreign students arriving in Canada on study permits) are expected to be introduced by immigration authorities. An overarching international education cooperation strategy, focused on a set of measures to raise Canada’s global education profile, will be presented by the government appointed expert panel by early 2012 (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, October 2012).

Citizenship and Immigration Canada Market Watch