Thursday, February 4, 2010

Canadian Government Boosts Centennial College's Draw in India

community colleges

The acceptance rate for Indian students coming to study at 20 Canadian colleges has doubled thanks to a new joint project between Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC).

The pilot project, called the Canada-in-India Student Partners Program, was launched in April 2009 between Canada's visa offices in India and 20 participating ACCC member colleges. The goal of the program is to increase the approval rate for study-permit applications to Canada.

The announcement was made by federal MP Tim Uppal, on behalf of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, and by Paul Brennan, ACCC's VP for International Partnerships, at Toronto's Centennial College on Jan. 28. Centennial was chosen as the venue for the announcement because it has been the biggest beneficiary of the federal program to fast-track applications by visa students from India.

Canada is becoming an increasingly popular destination for international students. The total number of international students in Canada has more than doubled since 1998 to 178,000 and their presence provided employment for more than 83,000 Canadians last year. A study commissioned by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada found international students contributed more than $6.5 billion to the Canadian economy in 2008.

During the first nine months of the program, CIC's visa offices in India received more than 4,000 applications, of which almost 600 were bound for Centennial. The program has successfully met its objective: the approval rate for the first group of students coming to study this past September was more than double the approval rate for the same colleges the preceding year. Furthermore, 95 percent of the students remain in good standing at their ACCC college. In addition, processing times are faster than the global norm, with an average of about two and a half weeks.

The program has several checks and balances, from requiring applicants to provide verifiable documentation, to a feedback mechanism where colleges report back on whether students show up. The safety, security and health of Canadians are of the utmost importance. All students who come to Canada through the Student Partnership Program must adhere to the same screening requirements as any visitor or student.

The federal government continues to look at ways to encourage international students to study in Canada. In the past, Canada has lagged behind Australia, the U.S. and the United Kingdom in aggressively marketing its colleges and universities overseas – but that is changing. At Centennial College, international student enrollment has skyrocketed in recent years; presently, there are more than 2,400 visa students on campus this winter.

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