End of public-private partnerships will cost northern Ontario colleges millions

Two northern Ontario colleges say a shift in immigration policy that will mark the end of international student enrolment at their private college partners will cost them millions of dollars.Cambrian and Northern Colleges recently learned how a cap on international student permits will affect them.Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced changes to the allocation of international study permits in January.It was, in part, to address pressures on housing, as Ontario’s colleges and universities increasingly rely on the higher tuition of foreign students during a domestic tuition freeze.Kristine Morrissey is president of Cambrian College. (Warren Schlote/CBC)Cambrian College President Kristine Morrissey said their main Sudbury campus won’t be affected as much as they had feared.”At the onset we were anticipating a 50 percent reduction as we were awaiting the news of our specific allocations,” she said.Morrissey said about half of Cambrian’s 6,000 students in Sudbury are from overseas and that number is expected to stay about the same next year, thanks to the college’s focus on training programs for high-demand careers, as well as an increase in Canadian students. However, since international enrolment will end at private colleges after May, Cambrian will lose revenue as its partnership with the private Brampton-based Hanson College, winds down.Morrissey said that will amount to about $25 million less in Cambrian’s bank accounts every year, meaning the college may need to find other ways to pay for infrastructure improvements to its Sudbury campus in the future. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that  all of our financial troubles are gone,” said Morrissey. “So I think we will still continue to work with our provincial government and look for opportunities for additional grants.”Northern College is winding down a public-private partnership with Pures College of Technology in Midland and its associated campus in Scarborough. (Pures College of Technology)It’s a similar scenario for Northern College, which has a public-private partnership with Pures College in Scarborough, with a total of 4,000 studentsPresident Mitch Dumas said they will receive slightly fewer international students next year at its campuses in Timmins, Kirkland Lake and Haileybury.But the phasing out of its existing partnership with Pures would cost Northern about $30 million a year, or a third of its budget.”We will be making some slight adjustments as we go, thus reducing some budget lines that we can easily reduce, and with our reduced number of international students on campus as well, it would mean some part-time positions may not be required,” said Dumas.He said they are exploring other options with their partner that are in the preliminary stages, but wouldn’t go into detail. Both colleges say they are awaiting details of a $1.3-billion relief fund announced by the Ontario government in February.The province said the fund, to be spread over three years, is meant to stabilize the post-secondary sector and protect students from taking on the burden of increased tuition.Ontario is extending its tuition fee freeze for public colleges and universities for at least three more years, although institutions will be able to increase tuition by up to five per cent for out-of-province domestic students.

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