top of page
  • Alicia Sigmon

Canada’s Study Permit Cap and its Effects on Chinese Students

In January, Canada released a new study permit cap to limit the number of permits that can be issued to students coming into Canada for the next two years. This sudden and extensive new policy has students wondering how this will impact their educational goals. Canada is one of the top study-abroad destinations for Chinese students, and the permit cap will have lasting effects on Chinese students hoping to study in Canada.

University campus in Toronto on a sunny day
Since the study permit cap was announced in January, students and staff have been wondering how this will change the dynamics of their campuses. | Photo by Joydeep Pal on Unsplash

Everything You Need to Know About Canada’s Study Permit Cap

The study permit cap means big changes for Canadian higher education. What is the study permit cap and why is Canada introducing this new policy? Here, we’ll provide an overview of Canada’s newest educational policies and answer all of your top questions!

What is the study permit cap?

Canada’s student permit cap limits the number of permits that can be issued to new students coming to Canada to about 360,000, which is a 35% decrease in the number of permits issued in 2023. The limit is set to be in place for two years to reduce the number of international students to 2022 levels. In 2025, the government will re-assess the cap to determine the next steps to ensure a safe and high-quality educational environment for all students.


Who is affected by the cap?

The permit limit impacts the number of new permits issued and therefore does not impact students already studying in Canada. It also does not impact the number of Master’s or PhD students coming into the country.


Why did Canada limit the number of student permits?

In 2014, Canada had an eight-year goal of 450k international students by 2022, but the actual number in that year exceeded 800k. Without a limit on the number of international students coming into Canada, some private institutions were taking advantage of their international students by overcharging tuition and not providing sufficient campus resources, all while bringing more international students to their campuses. This led to overpopulated campuses, negative educational experiences, and unsafe situations for students.

Not only were campuses overpopulated and providing insufficient resources, but Canada discovered a high number of fraudulent letters of acceptance. In 2023, the Canadian government planned to review 285 letters of acceptance. Of the initial 103 letters of acceptance reviewed by the government, 40 were fraudulent. With the study permit cap, Canada aims to reduce fraud in the education sector and protect students while working towards a more sustainable future.


Additional new policies for international education in Canada:

The permit cap is not Canada’s only solution for improving its higher education system. Canada has multiple new policies in place to create a stable higher education system in Canada.

  • Double funds required for student entry: Previously, students had to have access to $10k plus their tuition and travel expenses to apply for a study permit. Now, that number has been increased to $20,635. This measure is meant to ensure that international students are safe while studying in Canada and prepared for their international education experience.

  • The IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) to review and approve letters of acceptance: Colleges and universities must send letters of acceptance to the IRCC for approval. This will prevent fraudulent letters of acceptance to ensure that students are applying for study permits with valid letters of acceptance.


Students attending a math lecture in Ottawa
Students and staff around Canada are wondering how the study permit will affect their campuses. | Photo by Shubham Sharan on Unsplash

How the Study Permit Cap Will Affect Chinese Students

In 2022, 100,010 Chinese students were studying in Canada with a valid study permit, making China the second most common origin of international students in Canada after India. While Canada has students’ best interests in mind with the study permit cap, there have been mixed reactions, with some thinking that it’s drastic and others that it’s overdue. Despite differing opinions, the consensus is that the policy will have lasting impacts, both positive and negative, on Canadian and international students.


  • More resources: Students are paying for a high-quality education, and the student permit cap aims to ensure that students are receiving the education they are paying for. Limiting the number of study permits to a sustainable number means that universities won’t be overwhelmed and can provide adequate resources.

  • Improving the housing crisis: The student permit cap is also one way Canada is working to solve the housing crisis, which has negatively impacted international students’ experiences. This cap reduces the number of students coming to Canada, therefore reducing competition for housing.

  • Diversity of locations: Because the permit cap is based on the population in each province, Chinese students will be encouraged to visit smaller universities and destinations that are not as well-known internationally. This offers a new opportunity for Chinese students and lesser-known Canadian universities to learn from each other.


  • Canada’s reputation: With such a drastic measure, there is concern about how the study permit cap will be perceived internationally. Higher education professionals are concerned that students might think Canada is unwelcoming. On the contrary, this measure is meant to protect students while Canada improves the education system to ensure students’ safety and educational experience.

  • Increased competition for study permits: With the 35% decrease in new permits for the coming year, students are facing higher competition to go to Canadian schools. Chinese students especially want to attend the best universities, and with higher competition for these top schools and popular locations, students may apply to more schools in other countries.

  • Labor shortage: While the study permit cap will relieve some of the housing crisis, it is likely to increase the labor shortage. Chinese students bring new perspectives and skills to their host country and are an essential workforce. Students who want to stay in Canada after graduation can apply for a work permit, but with fewer students coming to Canada, there will be fewer international students to stay and work in the country.

  • Decreased funds for schools: Even before the study permit cap was released, universities and colleges especially in Ontario were at a “breaking point” financially. With tuition frozen for five years and a limit to funding for Canadian students, schools have been struggling and fewer international students means less money for those schools. Less money for these schools could mean layoffs and fewer resources for students.




eduFair China is a free website and app connecting Chinese students with international institutions and first-hand resources about studying abroad. We aim to give students a more empowered approach to international education so that they can succeed during their journey abroad.

Our platform features more than 1,200 organizations and reaches millions of students across China.

Click here to learn more about getting your institution online and how eduFair can help you reach students in China.




Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Twitter Basic Square
Search By Tags
bottom of page