ONTARIO NEWS RELEASE: Ontario Allocating International Student Applications to Support Labour Market Needs

Mississauga Board of Trade
Mississauga Board of Trade


March 27, 2024


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Ontario Allocating International Student Applications to Support Labour Market Needs

Province ensuring international graduates fill in-demand jobs and support economic growth

March 27, 2024

Colleges and Universities

TORONTOIn response to the federal government’s cap on the number of international student study permit applications over the next two years, Ontario is prioritizing public postsecondary programs that will help prepare graduates for in-demand jobs that support Ontario’s labour market needs.

“We are protecting the integrity of our province’s postsecondary education system by attracting the best and brightest international students to Ontario to study in areas that are critical to our economy,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “We have been working with postsecondary institutions to ensure international students are enrolled in the programs to support a pipeline of graduates for in-demand jobs.”

Ontario will allocate 96 per cent of permit applications to publicly assisted colleges and universities, with the remaining four per cent allotted to Ontario’s language schools, private universities and other institutions. Career colleges will not receive any applications.

Applications will be allocated to institutions based on the following criteria:

  • Prioritize programs in the following high-demand areas, including skilled trades, health human resources, STEM, hospitality and child care.
  • Cannot exceed the institution’s 2023 permit levels.
  • As a final backstop, the ratio of international permits cannot exceed 55 per cent (exclusive of high-demand areas) of the institution’s 2023 first-year domestic enrolment.

French-language enrolment will also be prioritized as employers compete for workers with French-language skills. The government will work with colleges and universities to support them in standing up and transitioning to programming that is aligned with labour market needs and support Ontario’s economic growth.

Most international students seeking to study in Ontario must provide a provincial letter of attestation with their study permit application. This letter serves as proof that the applicant has been accounted for within the maximum allocations set by the federal government. To acquire an attestation letter to study in Ontario, students should contact their admissions office at the Ontario postsecondary institution where they have accepted their offer of admission and intend to enrol. Students can also visit the ministry website for more information.

To protect international postsecondary students and ensure they have a positive and rewarding experience when studying in Ontario, the government:

  • Is taking action requiring all publicly assisted colleges and universities to have a guarantee that housing options are available for incoming international students.
  • Invested over $32 million in 2023-24 to support the mental health of all postsecondary students. This includes funding provided directly to postsecondary institutions through multiple grants.
  • Introduced the Strengthening Accountability and Student Supports Act, 2024 that would, if passed, help to enhance the student experience by putting in place additional measures to support mental health, safe and inclusive campuses and allow for increased transparency of fees, benefiting all students including international students.

International students may apply for a post-graduation work permit after graduating from an eligible designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada. Ontario approves DLIs under the joint provincial-federal International Student Program. DLIs are eligible to enrol international students in programs of study six months in duration or longer on a study permit issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

As part of the changes announced by the federal government in January 2024, international students who begin a program at a publicly assisted college that is delivered through a private partner will not be eligible for a post-graduation work permit starting on May 15, 2024.


Quick facts

  • In January 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced changes to the International Student Program for 2024 and 2025, including a cap on the number of study permits issued to international students, excluding international students in Kindergarten to Grade 12, Master’s and doctoral degree programs.
  • 22 of 23 universities will keep applications at the 2023 level. Only Algoma University will see a decline from its 2023 applications.
  • 11 of 24 colleges will keep applications at the 2023 level. Colleges with public-private college partnerships and Conestoga College will see the largest decline.

Additional Resources

Media Contacts

Liz Tuomi
Minister’s Office

Media Desk
Communications Branch

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