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Canada: Ontario colleges adopt new standards for programmes and supports for international students

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • A new set of standards of practice for Ontario’s public colleges aims to establish “a common set of standards for international student activity”
  • It provides specific guidance with respect to marketing and recruitment, engagement with and management of education agents, and delivery of programmes and services for international students

Canada has been the fastest-growing study destination for much of the last decade, and, in 2022 alone, recorded 30% year-over-year growth and a record high enrolment of more than 800,000 foreign students.

Within that larger context of rapid expansion, there are now a number of initiatives underway to reinforce and strengthen policies, programmes, and supports for international students in Canada. The latest example of which comes in the form of a newly announced package of programme and service standards from Colleges Ontario.

Colleges Ontario is the peak body representing the province’s 24 public colleges. Twenty three of the member colleges have signed on to a new Standards of Practice document that was published on 14 March 2023.

Under those standards, each signatory college commits to:

  • Ensuring that marketing to international students is accurate and transparent;
  • Requiring that international agents representing their college have completed a sector-endorsed agent training programme;
  • Managing its relationships with international education agents and other partners in the marketing and admissions process to support honest business practices that are in the best interests of international students;
  • Ensuring that information on services, supports, and facilities are readily available to students, both before and after arrival; and
  • Providing targeted assistance to help international students adjust to life and study in Canada.

“Every qualified student deserves to get an excellent post-secondary education,” said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. “These new standards will help ensure international students can succeed in their programmes.”

The new standards framework for Colleges Ontario builds on similar initiatives for other key destinations, including The London Statement, New Zealand’s Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners Code of Practice, Australia’s Agent Code of Ethics, Australia’s National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students, and the American Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education’s Standards for New Student Orientation.

The introduction to the Colleges Ontario standards outlines that, “This document builds on the ongoing strengthening of programmes and supports for all students by establishing a common set of minimum standards for international student activity. The standards build on existing practices and the legislative and policy framework and quality assurance mechanisms that guide all college activities…The goal of these standards is to support the well-being of international learners to enhance their opportunities for academic and personal success.”

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