Weekly Bulletin – 2004 January 21

The Third Door Into Canada: The Foreign Student Programme

January 21, 2004

Dear Prime Minister Martin and Fellow MP's:

For the past few days, Canadian newspapers have featured stories about foreign students being cheated by unscrupulous language schools. Most Canadians would agree that the people who are doing the cheating should be held to account.

Citizenship and Immigration says that more than 130,000 foreign students come to study in Canada every year. Thousands more come to study English or French. The ages of the students vary. Some are university level. Some are high school. But some are coming as elementary students, even around the Grade 1 level. The latter case should ring alarm bells about itself and the entire foreign student programme in Canada. Why are foreign parents sending such young children to Canadian schools? And why are they putting such young children into the care of, in many cases, complete strangers? The suspicion that many Canadians have is that these young people will be used in some way to acquire Canadian citizenship and then to bring in their older family members. In the case of the university level students, the suspicion is that these people are here for not just a university education, but to acquire citizenship. In other words, the suspicion is that the foreign student programme (in addition to the “first door” regular immigration programme and the “second door” refugee programme) is really a third door into Canada. Are the suspicions of many Canadians justified?

Let's look at a related story.

Canadian universities have boasted recently that their numbers of foreign students have increased dramatically in the last year. Across the country, foreign student enrollment has risen by 15% in one year. Some provinces have recorded increases of 20%. In some places such as Acadia University in Nova Scotia, foreign students make up 17.7% of the student population. On the other side of the country, at the University of Victoria, foreign students make up 7.3% of the student population. In many cases, universities have raised admissions standards to curb enrolment of local applicants. The universities justify their move by saying that the foreign students pay substantially more in fees for their education than local students and that the foreign students pay for their own spaces. But at some of these universities at the very least, these “high payers” soon become “low payers” because they apply for landed immigrant status not long after getting here. Once they receive such status, their fees fall to the level of local students. In other words, the universities get a temporary “subsidy” from these students, but soon Canadian taxpayers are subsidizing these foreign students just as Canadian taxpayers subsidize their own students. And, most significant of all, the “third door” into Canada has been opened.

The foreign student programme was never intended to be another form of immigration. Canadians have a right to demand that this illegitimate door be closed. They also have a right to know how much this “third door” has been used in the past. Citizenship and Immigration Canada cannot continue to play dead as, once again, Canada's own citizens are duped, its own students are denied education spaces and its immigration policies are abused.

George Borjas, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, did a thorough study called “An Evaluation of the Foreign Student Programme” in the U.S. His conclusions should be of interest to Citizenship and Immigration, Canada's Prime Minister, all MP's and all Canadians:

(1) The Immigration and Naturalization Service (the American equivalent of Canada's CIC) has little control over the number and type of students being admitted.

(2) The programme is littered with corruption and fraud.

(3) American taxpayers subsidize a sizeable part of the tuition of foreign students.

(4) The benefits of the programme are greatly exaggerated, and the programme may generate a net economic loss for the country.

(5) The programme is best viewed as yet another redistribution programme, shifting wealth away from native workers and taxpayers and re-distributing it to universities and non-Americans.

Immigration Watch Canada calls for an open review of Canada's Foreign Student Programme in order to determine the extent of the abuse in the programme and in order to determine what measures should be taken to stop the abuse. Canada's foreign student programme should have altruistic goals, but it should not be a “third door” into Canada. Canada's reckless and foolish immigration policies have already created more than enough mayhem in this country. Canadians neither want nor need an increasingly widening “third immigration door” to create more foolishness.

Best wishes,

Dan Murray
Immigration Watch Canada