Jason Kenney, the Canadian immigration minister, has said that he approves of measures taken by the British government to reform its student visa system and intends to reform the Canadian visa system along similar lines.
Mr Kenney was speaking to a UK
newspaper while on a visit to the UK this week. He was asked what he thought
about the UK Border Agency's decision to remove the Highly Trusted Sponsor
status from London Metropolitan University in August 2012. The decision caused
great controversy at the time and caused business and higher education bodies to
warn that the attendant bad publicity would damage the UK's reputation as a
destination for overseas students to take their degrees. However, Mr Kenney
disagreed. He said that, in his view, the decision would, in fact, strengthen
the UK's reputation.
The UKBA made the decision on three
• LMU did not have systems in place to check that students had
adequate ability in English to understand a university course
• LMU did not
have systems in place to check that students attended their courses
• LMU did
not have systems in place to check that students had the right visa to entitle
them to study in the UK.
Mr Kenney told Chris Parr of the Times
Higher Education supplement that he believed that the decision had been the
right one. 'I read the London Met controversy as sending a strong message to
that the UK is going to maintain the integrity of its post-secondary brand to
international students,' he said.
And he added 'we are intending to
go in the same direction. We need to facilitate student study visas for bona
fide students going to bona fide institutions. There are many sub-par institutions that are not providing quality programmes
and which are mostly facilitating various forms of legal
Mr Kenney's department, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is responsible for the Canadian government's policy on
immigration. Canada has the most active immigration policy of any G8 country.
Among the policies it has in place is Canadian Experience Class, a visa
programme which sees permanent residence status being granted to graduates of
Canadian universities. So far, over 20,000
students have been granted permanent residence.
Canada is keen to
attract overseas students but Mr Kenney said that he did not want to sacrifice
quality for the sake of quantity; 'If universities just want to go for the fast
track and bring in unlimited numbers of foreign students without any regard for
the quality of their student life, then I think that's a mistake,' he
Many Canadian universities have told the minister that they
would approve of similar measures in Canada, he said. 'Some of the more
responsible universities in Canada have said to me that they should be careful.
Yes, they want to attract foreign students – they enrich campus life and they
certainly bring fees – but [universities] want to make sure that they don't end
up with parallel communities online.
He said that universities should
not take on so many overseas students and that, 'If you're coming from an
upper-middle class Chinese family to study in Britain or Canada, your primary
focus is to learn English. You shouldn't want to end up in a university where 30
or 40% of the students are Mandarin speakers.'
Global Visa Support offers a
variety of programs in Canada. Please visit our
Canadian page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/canada.html