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INSIDE THE VILLAGE: A rough year ahead for Ontario colleges and universities

This week's podcast: Capping the number of international students will mean millions in lost revenue for post-secondary institutions. This college president is fighting hard to change the government's mind

​Welcome back to Inside the Village, a one-of-a-kind podcast where all news is local — and no topic is off-limits.

On this week's episode: The debate over international students rages on.

As we discussed on the show last month, the Trudeau government has announced a two-year cap on the number of international students coming to Canada. The policy change will have the biggest impact on Ontario, where the number of foreign students will be slashed by approximately 50 per cent.

Not surprisingly, colleges and universities are worried about how the change will impact their budgets. Amid years of provincial under-funding — and the Ford government's 2019 decision to freeze domestic tuition — schools have increasingly turned to international students, who pay much higher tuition.

Simply put, the newly announced cap will translate into many millions in lost revenue.

For colleges in particular, the cap itself isn't the worst news. They are much more concerned about how the new rules will impact the partnerships that many Ontario colleges have established with private schools in the Greater Toronto Area.

The feds say international students who attend those private colleges will no longer be eligible for post-graduate work permits — a change that will almost certainly mean a massive drop in enrolment.

Sault College, for example, has a public-private partnership with TriOS College, one of Canada’s largest private career colleges. Under the new rules, those students will no longer be allowed to apply for study permits after graduation.

Sault College president David Orazietti — our guest this week — says his school's partnership with TriOS brings in $40-million a year, one-third of the college's entire operating budget. The prospect of losing that revenue would be devastating, he says.

"I am shocked by the way this was done," says Orazietti, a former Ontario cabinet minister under Kathleen Wynne. "They took a very clear shot at any public institution that had a private partner."

If you've been following this story closely, Orazietti's interview is a must-listen.

Hosted by Scott Sexsmith and Michael Friscolanti, the Editor-in-Chief of Village Media, Inside the Village is a news and current affairs podcast that provides a weekly window into some of the best local journalism from across our chain of Ontario newsrooms. Produced by Derek Turner, the program also explores bigger-picture issues that impact people across the province.

Every episode is available HERE. If you prefer the audio version, it is available wherever you find your favourite podcasts.

Have something to say? You can reach us at [email protected].

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