Surrey Board of Trade Raises Economic Concerns Over Proposed Cap on International Student Visas

The Surrey Board of Trade has deep concerns over the recently announced cap on international student visas, for both public and private colleges, which could lead to potential negative economic repercussions. The Surrey Board of Trade is urging careful consideration of the proposed measures. In a letter addressed to Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Marc Miller, and BC’s Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, Selina Robinson, the Surrey Board of Trade outlined key concerns regarding the impact on local economies and the potential unintended consequences of the proposed policies.

“The proposed cap, leading to a 35% reduction in new undergraduate study visas this year, is anticipated to have a substantial economic impact,” said Anita Huberman, President & CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “With approximately 360,000 students from abroad affected, there is a potential reduction of up to 50% in provinces with a higher proportion of international students. This abrupt decrease in the influx of international students will negatively impact the economic contributions they make to local communities and businesses.”

Of particular concern is the potential increase in tuition fees at post-secondary institutions due to the reduction in international student enrolment. The financial challenges faced by these institutions could lead to fee hikes for both international and domestic students, hindering the accessibility and affordability of quality education and stifling innovation.

The Surrey Board of Trade acknowledges the importance of addressing concerns related to unscrupulous private colleges. However, the organization emphasizes the need for a nuanced approach, avoiding a blanket label that may inadvertently penalize reputable private institutions contributing significantly to the education sector and contributing significantly to the communities that they serve. Private educators play a crucial role in filling educational gaps and providing well-trained graduates essential to the smooth operation of various sectors of the economy.

Key Concerns Highlighted by the Surrey Board of Trade:

1. Economic Contributions: International students contribute significantly to the local economy through tuition fees, accommodation, and daily expenditures. A substantial reduction in their numbers will directly affect businesses, particularly those in the education, hospitality, and retail sectors, causing a decline in revenue and potential job losses.
2. Labour Shortages: The international student population also plays a vital role in the labour market. Many students contribute to the workforce through part-time jobs, providing essential skills and services. A decrease in their numbers will lead to a shortage of available labour and negatively impact businesses relying on this demographic.
3. Impact on Local Businesses: Local businesses, especially those catering to the unique needs and preferences of international students, may experience a downturn. From cultural outlets to specialty stores, a reduction in the international student population may result in decreased demand for their products and services.
4. Tuition Fee Increases: The financial strain on post-secondary institutions due to reduced international student enrolment could prompt these institutions to offset their losses by raising tuition fees for both international and domestic students. Such fee increases would place an additional burden on students and may hinder accessibility to quality education.
5. Potential Long-Term Consequences: The proposed cap raises concerns about the long-term competitiveness of Canadian educational institutions. Other countries may become more attractive to international students, leading to a loss of market share in the global education market.

The Surrey Board of Trade calls for a balanced and collaborative approach to regulate the international student system, involving stakeholders from the education sector and business communities. Such an approach will help formulate policies that maintain the economic benefits of international students while upholding the integrity of the education system.


Anita Huberman, 604-634-0342,