More Canadian universities allowed to welcome international students

Mohanad Moetaz
Published: December 20, 2020

Canada has updated its list of approved Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) that are currently permitted to welcome international students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A DLI is a school, university or college that is allowed to host international students. Canada had previously introduced travel restrictions on non-essential travel to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Travel restrictions had first included new international students. Only those who have a study permit or an approval issued on or before March 18 were allowed to travel to Canada. However, Canada has recently begun to ease restrictions to allow more international students to pursue their education in the country.

Institutions who wish to make the list must have a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by their provincial or territorial government.

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Students who are enrolled in these approved DLIs are exempt from Canada's travel restrictions, and will likely be granted entry to Canada by a border official upon arrival.

Many prominent Ontario-based institutions have been added, such as the University of Waterloo, Ryerson University, OCAD University and the University of Windsor.

All individuals entering Canada, including international students, are required by law to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon arrival. This means that you should stay inside at all times. Failure to do so may result in hefty fines.

In addition, travelers to Canada, particularly by air, are required to install the ArriveCAN mobile application. You will be required to submit your travel and contact information, your quarantine plan, as well as a daily COVID-19 symptom self assessment.

A quarantine plan includes where you intend to quarantine, and how you are planning to obtain necessary items such as groceries and medicine.

Drop in international enrollment

Many universities across the country, including in British Columbia and Ontario, have seen a spike in domestic enrolment and a drop in international enrolment. This is according to a study conducted by CourseCompare, a platform that helps connect students to courses and training programs.

Not all universities saw a drop in international enrolment. There are some exceptions. For example, UBC Okanagan saw a nine per cent increase in international undergraduate enrolment. Overall, however, the study shows a nine per cent drop in international enrolment across Canadian learning institutions. This is based on official figures by more than 50 institutions across the country.

One possible explanation for this is that many Canadian colleges and universities are looking to extend their online education into next semester. Some students, particularly international students who pay higher tuition fees, may be reluctant to enroll, until classes revert to being on-campus.

In addition, many international students are enrolled in more practical hands-on programs such as acting, nursing and lab-dependent programs such as electrical engineering and film production. Such programs may be considered to be the most negatively impacted, since it is very challenging to present the courses online. An alternative is to present the courses on-campus with physical distancing procedures. In some cases, the courses can be suspended altogether.

When it comes to domestic students, however, universities and colleges in Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada and B.C. saw a significant increase in enrolment, many of whom are adult learners. This may be down to higher unemployment levels.

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