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Study in Canada - Uncertain Times

January 27, 2024


Many of you may be reading media coverage (accurate or possibly otherwise) of the changes recently announced that will affect those wishing to study in Canada.

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These changes will involve both Canada’s national government as well as each of Canada’s 10 provinces and 3 territories.


The official national government announcement is here:


Here are the main impacts:

1. Applications for Diplomas:  Private Colleges and Private-Public partnerships


Canada has a system of both public and private institutions. Almost all universities are public, and all the largest colleges are public as well. A public institution will have most of its students being Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Many private institutions licensed to offer programs by a public college, generally consist of all or nearly all international students. These institutions are the main focus of the new rules.


For programs that are under licence like this, graduates from a diploma program will no longer be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This will be in effect for at least 2 years beginning with programs starting in September, 2024. This is one of the two biggest impacts of the new rules.


If the program is at a private institution, graduates may still be eligible for a PGWP if the institution is not licensed by a public institution. There are many excellent private institutions. If you are interested in one, ask what is the percentage of international students in the college.


So it is essential to make sure the institution offering the diploma program you want confirms in writing or on its web page that its graduates are eligible for a PGWP. If the confirmation is on the webpage, make sure to document that using a screenshot with the a date stamp on it.


For students seeking to do a diploma at a public institution, graduates from these institutions will be eligible for a PGWP.


For more information on how to choose a public institution, and check if it is a Designated Learning Institute check our blog on this subject here:


There may be another important impact from the new rules. The federal government has reduced the total number of study permits it will approve for a two year period. It will give each province and territory a fixed number and then it will be up to each province or territory to decide how to organize which institutions can get these approvals and how many each institution can get.


In the new system, a study permit application will need to have what is called an “attestation letter” from the province or territory. The system for this is not yet in place and as of today, Saturday, January 27, 2024, CUAC is seeing that new applicants are being told to re-apply only with the attestation letter. It may take several weeks before the system is organized so that students can receive these.


The biggest impact of the study permit reductions is that institutions may be much more restricted in how many offers they make to students. It is impossible at this moment to know the impact of this for any program at any institution. 


2. Applications for Bachelor Degrees


The main impacts will include the following:


A. Applicants will need an attestation letter.


This will make it difficult for students wanting to start a program in May, 2024, since as noted above, it may take weeks before the institution the student has been admitted to, can provide that letter . Whether someone can make it for May, 2024 will depend on how fast the province organizes itself to provide these letters and how fast study permits are processed in the student's market.


Study permits sometimes can take only one or two weeks or can take many months. It is worth considering whether to ask the institution for an admission to September, 2024 rather than May, 2024, especially if the time for getting the attestation letter is going to be too late for the study permit process in the student’s market.

Canada does publish processing time guidelines, but the Canadian government also acknowledges this information is often not accurate at the time the student may be checking:



For students who already applied for a study permit before January 22, 2024 they should not be affected. 


For students admitted to September, 2024, they should be patient as there is enough time to get the attestation letter.


B. The new  limits on study permits may impact those seeking to apply for Bachelor degrees. But the impact may be small or not at all. It is too early to say. Because of the new rules, provinces and territories may decide to give private-public college partnership institutions very very few numbers of study permits. If so, this would leave a lot of study permits for Bachelor degree programs.. 




3. Master Degree (and PhD) Students


This will have no negative impact on those seeking to study Master degrees (as well as Doctoral degrees). All their privileges will remain in place. 


In fact, for those students who plan to attend Master degree programs of less than 2 academic years in length, they will likely now be eligible for a three year work permit. Under the old system, the work permit would have been less.


For spouses of students studying in master and doctoral programs, they will continue to be eligible for open work permits. 


However, for those studying in any other program, there will no longer be approval available for this.



Comments or questions can be sent to blog@cuac.ca

For more information about CUAC, see cuac.ca/cuac.

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