Keyano CEO predicts few impacts from international student cap

Keyano head Jay Notay has his concerns with the cap, but argues Keyano and Fort McMurray “is in a good place.”

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Keyano College does not believe the institution will suffer or see growth slow as the federal government introduces caps on foreign students in Canada, said Jay Notay, president and CEO of Keyano College.

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However Notay argues the federal government had not consulted with provinces or institutions in developing a cap. He also argued the cap treats all post-secondary institutions as suspect following the actions of institutions known to Ottawa as “bad actors.”

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“Keyano is in a good place right now with the mix of students we have,” said Notay. “I don’t anticipate significant issues with the framework that’s been implemented, but there’s a lot of questions that we still need answered.”

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced in early February that Canada will cut student visas during the next two years by 35 per cent. Ontario will see a 50 per cent cut. Masters and PhD students will be exempt. Miller says Ottawa is concerned about private “fly-by-night” colleges churning out diplomas and offering a low quality education. He has vowed to shut them down.

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The cuts come as politicians, labour groups and non-profits across Canada warn of unaffordable housing and rent, a strained health care and social profit system, and living costs in major Canadian cities.

Notay says these housing pressures, which were common during the population explosion of the last oilsands boom, are not in Fort McMurray these days. Local vacancies hover around 13 per cent, he said, whereas some institutions are in cities with vacancies as low as three per cent. Struggles with inflation are nationwide.

“One of the reason this is happening is because post-secondary institutions of a lack of public investment in the post-secondary sector,” said Notay. “At Keyano, it was just one of many ways in our business plan on how we can be less reliant on government funding.”

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Keyano College currently has 3,200 students, with 1,400 of those students are international students. Notay says he does not want international students to make up more than half of the student body.

The volume of international students coming to Keyano has justified courses and programs that all students can enjoy, said Notay. He also adds there has been growth in students from Canada coming to Keyano, particularly in apprenticeship and trades programs.

“Keyano has taken a very measured approach in terms of how we are handling international education. We’ve grown exponentially but it was a planned growth,” said Notay. “There will be a cap and we’re at the capacity where we don’t need to have a cap.”

International students made up 11.5 per cent of Alberta students in 2020, according to Statistics Canada. This is lower than any other province. British Columbia had the highest at 24 per cent, followed by 16.3 per cent in Ontario.

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This means Alberta could benefit from the measures while other provinces see enrolment drop, although Notay is quick to point out there are still many concerns and unanswered questions regarding how the plan will be implemented.

“We want to make sure Alberta looks at this growth in a planned, measured proper way,” said Notay. “We want to avoid is what’s happened in B.C. and Ontario. We want to make sure we can accommodate students in the right way and offer the education they deserve.”

-with reporting from Matt Scace

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