Ontario announces distribution of allocation for international study permits in 2024

Asheesh Moosapeta, Vimal Sivakumar
Updated: Mar, 27, 2024
  • Published: March 27, 2024

Most international study permits—96% - will go to public universities and colleges in Ontario while the remainder will be split between "language schools, private universities and other institutions” across the province.

In a news release this afternoon, the Government of Ontario has announced that its study permit allocation will focus on prioritising postsecondary educational programs at public institutions to “help prepare graduates for in-demand jobs that support Ontario’s labour market needs.”

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Note: This allocation means that career colleges will be excluded from receiving any international student study permit applications. Career colleges are typically private institutions.

According to the release today, Ontario’s provincial government has chosen to allocate study permits for international students by prioritising programs in several “high-demand areas” including:

  • Skilled trades
  • Health human resources
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
  • Hospitality
  • Childcare

Ontario also specified that it will “prioritise French-language enrolment” adding that this is important because “employers compete for workers with French-language skills.”

Today’s press release also detailed the following about Ontario’s study permit allocation in 2024:

The allocation of study permits to an individual institution cannot exceed the number of permits it issued in 2023 and “the ratio of international permits cannot exceed 55% (exclusive of high-demand areas) of the institution’s 2023 first-year domestic enrolment.”

All public Ontario universities other than Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie—which will see a decline from last year’s intake levels—“will keep applications at the 2023 level.”

11 of Ontario’s 24 public colleges will also maintain “applications at the 2023 level.” The largest decline in application volume among colleges will be seen among those “with public-private college partnerships”, as well as Conestoga College specifically.

Why is Ontario allocating its international study permits?

Today’s announcement comes in response to a decision from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) earlier this year to place a cap on the number of study permits issued to international students* across Canada in 2024 and 2025.

*This measure from IRCC is largely focused on international students at the undergraduate level. Specifically, IRCC’s cap excludes international students at the primary and secondary school level, as well as students pursuing master's and doctoral degrees.

How do Ontario’s allocations compare to other provinces?

Ontario’s allocation of study permit quotas shows a much larger skew towards public institutions than some other provinces. For example, British Columbia (the province with the second most Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) after Ontario) split its allocation roughly evenly between public post-secondary institutions (53%) and private institutions (47%). British Columbia’s Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills confirmed the province will be allocated 83,000 undergraduate study permit applications for 2024.

Ontario has not yet announced the total number of study permit applications that it has been given from the federal government this year. Guidelines provided by IRCC suggest that the province will have the largest quota for study permits of any province or territory in Canada, based on its population size.

Getting a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) in Ontario

Ontario has yet to formally announce the start of its PAL issuance system, however, the province is expected to do so in the coming days. The federal government set a deadline of March 31st for all provinces and territories to have a process in place for issuing PALs to international students.

As of now, international students looking to study in Ontario are advised by the provincial government to directly contact their school of choice, to get more details on how the document can be procured. According to the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS)—the centralised application service for colleges in Ontario—international students will not have to apply for PALs directly. Rather a student’s chosen DLI will apply on their behalf to the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities. Once the application is approved and the PAL is ready, international students will receive a copy of their letter from their DLI.

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