Part-time post-secondary instructors fear losing work amidst international student visa cap

“There was always going to be a reckoning,” said part-time Langara instructor

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By ARLO JUKES

Part-time instructors at Langara and other B.C. post-secondary institutions worry they could lose work following the federal government’s recent announcement that it will cut the number of international student visas. 

Meant to prevent the growing exploitation of international students who have become cash cows for some institutions, the cuts will mean a revenue hit for post-secondary institutions, leaving many schools and instructors on edge. 

The new cap system, revealed in January, allows for 83,000 undergraduate study permit applications in B.C., down 15 per cent from 97,000 in 2023. 

Budget shortages mean fewer programs, fewer jobs

Elliot Montpellier, a part-time anthropology and sociology instructor at Langara, is concerned his already uncertain employment at the college will become even less stable. 

“There’s been no communication about what this looks like in terms of potential lower enrolments,” Montpellier said. “From what I know, it’s all been moving very quickly.”  

Montpellier said other institutions where he also works part-time have already slashed jobs.  

“At another institution that I teach at, there have been cuts already announced and ongoing hires that have been stopped, essentially.”  

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced in January that it would reduce the number of study permits for international students by 35 per cent over the next two years. Eligible colleges and universities must request attestation letters from the provincial government so international students can apply to study in that province. The number of attestation letters each institution will receive remains unclear. 

According to Langara’s website, international students made up 38 per cent of Langara College’s student population last year, generating 70 per cent of the school’s $114 million annual tuition revenue. 

According to a 2022 report from Global Affairs Canada, international students generated $22.3 billion in the country, surpassing exports of auto parts, lumber and aircraft. 

Montpellier is worried, but his situation wasn’t unexpected. 

“I think many of us thought there was always going to be a reckoning and that this was always kind of like, borrowed time for these universities,” he said.  

Warren Dean Flandez, who teaches arts and entertainment management at Capilano University, said his department sees a relatively high number of international students.   

“I think anything that impacts an organization’s ability to generate revenue is definitely a cause for concern,” said Flandez. 

Calls to Action

Jessie Niikoi, secretary treasurer of the BC Federation of Students, said the organization is calling on the provincial government to reinvest in public post-secondary education.  

“We started to see that institutions are becoming overly reliant on international student numbers and their tuition to fund their budgets,” said Niikoi. “Institutions need to be properly funded so they don’t have to rely on students or just international students as their main source of funding.” 

The federation presented an open letter to the provincial government with five calls to action last month.  

“Basically, we’re calling for an increase in funding for the post-secondary education sector,” said Niikoi, adding that the student group has also called on the government to release the results of a funding review initiated in 2022. 

“We just want that completed so we can identify the gaps in funding and then fix the issue of funding,” Niikoi said.  

Langara College was not available for comment, while the Langara Faculty Association declined to comment. 

 

 

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