Skip to content

Conestoga unfairly grouped with ‘bad actors,’ says school president

Changes needed for international students, but should be phased in after consultation, says John Tibbits
Conestoga College president John Tibbits speaks to press at the federal announcement

When announcing a new, lower cap on international student admissions, the federal government “unfairly grouped” Conestoga College with “bad actors in the sector,” believes school president John Tibbits.

“We agree that changes need to be made, especially in relation to private colleges, but the federal government’s decision should have been phased in over time and done in consultation,” Tibbits wrote in a letter to college staff dated Feb. 2. “Instead, Canada’s reputation as a destination for post-secondary education is threatened. 

“The recent changes are not helpful for students trying to apply to Canada and contribute to our economy, and there will be an impact on employers attempting to hire qualified personnel.”

Responding to a recent uptick in international students, last last year Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced a 35 per cent reduction in the Canada-wide number of study permits for international students this year. 

The full impact of that announcement, Tibbits notes, is unknown at this time.

Over the past several months, stories have started to come out of students travelling to Canada to study and ending up packed in bedrooms, unable to feed themselves and having to access food banks and other social services. 

“To help with costs, other colleges have contracted curriculum to private colleges, but we have chosen not to take this path,” the letter explains. “In fact, Conestoga has never partnered with a private college – we have taken on financial risks ourselves by investing our revenues in our own communities.”

Conestoga College, which has a Guelph campus and looks to expand with its planned Downtown Guelph location, has been one of the country's main destinations for international students, welcoming well over 20,000 students in 2022 alone. 

“International students are needed to fill employment gaps to ensure the economic prosperity of the communities we serve over the next 20 years,” states Tibbits, pointing to a low national fertility rate and a major skills shortage. “Conestoga was aware of these looming workforce shortages more than 25 years ago.”

Tibbits goes on to say more than 75 per cent of the school’s international students already have a degree from a reputable international university.

- with files from Joe McGuinty,


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

Richard Vivian

About the Author: Richard Vivian

Richard Vivian is an award-winning journalist and longtime Guelph resident. He joined the GuelphToday team as assistant editor in 2020, largely covering municipal matters and general assignment duties
Read more