College revokes international students' conditional offers

For the second time this year, a Timmins college has revoked the acceptance of prospective international students.

Northern College has deferred the conditional offers of 211 people who it says had not secured the visa needed to study in Canada. Housing and jobs are two of the key reasons for the decision.

In-person interviews were declined by Northern College. Instead, it issued a statement about its decision.

“When it came to the attention of Northern College that it had reached a saturation point with its campus communities, a decision was made to ensure the support and success of potential and existing students,” it reads.

“If students do not have access to housing and employment, it puts them at risk. Northern College cannot guarantee housing for students outside of the residences at two of its campuses — both operated by third-party companies.”

The college says its staff works with local landlords and property management firms to determine what housing is available. The revocation notices were issued to students when the school realized it couldn’t support the numbers projected for January 2024.

The saturation point for housing also extends to jobs, according to the school.

Northern College’s biggest campus is in Timmins, which has a population of just over 41,000.

“The availability of jobs in our communities are limited. This decision was made to ensure that students are set up to succeed in both their studies and their personal lives,” says the college.

Affected students have been offered a deferral, meaning the students could start their courses in the fall 2024 semester instead of this winter, or a full tuition refund.

Those who defer will be guaranteed a spot in the program of their choice and will receive a $1,000 bursary for that semester.

In August 2023, 503 incoming international students planning to study at Northern College through a partnership with Pures College had their acceptance letters revoked after the number of student visas issued by the federal Ministry of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship far exceeded the school’s capacity to run programs.

Pures College of Technology is a Toronto-based designated learning institution (DLI). A DLI is a school approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students.

In that case, students were offered deferment, a refund, or placement in another school for a similar program.

The Timmins school is working with other Ontario colleges to create similar options for the 211 new students impacted.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is planning a new framework for the student visa program to be rolled out in 2024 to avoid issues like what occurred in August.

The agency told TimminsToday that a revoked acceptance or conditional acceptance letter would not impact the visa application process for the student involved, should they choose to try to get a student visa in the future.

Starting Dec. 1, acceptance letters for international students will need to be confirmed with IRCC directly by institutions. For the fall 2024 semester, the IRCC says it is adopting a “recognized institution” framework to benefit post-secondary institutions that set a higher standard for international students’ needs while in Canada.

Northern College says it is working to meet those new standards.

“Changes will include clearer language in our conditional offer letters, standardized study visa submission deadlines, and the reduced issuance of conditional offer letters to International students,” said the college.

The school acknowledges the impact these situations can have on the people directly impacted.

“Northern College offers its sincerest apologies to those affected students and is working closely with them on a case-by-case basis to find solutions that fit their needs while ensuring they have access to the basic supports needed to succeed in pursuing their post-secondary education,” reads the statement.

Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,