Students defer admission due to foreign service strike

Many international students getting ready to study at post-secondary institutions in Canada this fall may have to put their plans on hold due to the strike of foreign service workers, the government agency responsible for issuing student visas.

By Kris Foster

At the U of S, about 45 international undergraduate students who were newly admitted to start classes this fall have requested to defer their admission until January, said Alison Pickrell, director of enrolment and student affairs.

"The short-term impact is that newly admitted students who didn't already obtain their study authorization (from the foreign service) are unable to enter the country to study.  One of the options we have provided to our undergraduate students is to defer their admission," Pickrell explained. "About 45 students out of the 400-450 new international undergrads (degree and ESL) we would normally see have asked for deferrals."

Until the work action is over, she continued, there isn't a lot the U of S can do other than communicate with the students who are being affected and provide as much information as possible.

"If the strike continues over the long term, this could affect Canada's ability to recruit high-quality international students. Recruiting international students is competitive and Canada has spent a lot of time and money raising its profile as preferred destination for post-secondary education," Pickrell explained. "If international students aren't confident that they will get the study authorization needed within a reasonable amount of time, they may select another country for their postsecondary studies where this is not an issue."

So far, international student numbers look to be on par or up slightly compared to last year, she said, but "we won't be able to tell the final number until census day in October when all those international students who registered but had to withdraw their classes have done so."

The number of international graduate students affected by this strike is more difficult to determine because each department on campus manages its own graduate program and the students enrolled in it.