Canada’s immigration policy which has attracted thousands of Nigerians is built to fund its neoliberal schools and academic system. This is according to a report published on Academia.
The findings of the report indicate that international students’ higher tuition payments contribute to Canada’s postsecondary institutions’ declining public funding while also giving these students access to employment opportunities and permanent residency in the country upon completion of their studies.
The research report was based on a sample size of international students from Nigeria and a few African countries in Canada.
Due to Nigeria’s extensive unemployment and high rate of youth unemployment in comparison to Canada, some of the participants asserted that Nigerians are driven to Canada by the opportunity to work while they are students.
Nigerian students studying in Canada also have the chance to considerably benefit from the Post-Graduation Work Visa Program (PGWP), which provides overseas graduates with an “open” work permit that gives them access to the job market for three years. During the 3-year window, PGWP holders may apply for permanent residency.
Preference for Canada as a study destination over other countries
Much to the advantage of Nigerians, and coupled with the ‘Japa’ trend, Nigerians are increasingly migrating to Canada for undergraduate and postgraduate education, particularly at Canadian universities.
This is also fueled by Canada’s student visa program, which provides international students with employment opportunities during and after their studies, as well as Canadian permanent residence in most cases upon graduation.
Also, interviews with respondents from educational recruitment agencies indicate that the attraction to permanent residency pathways, lower tuition, and quality education are three factors that make Canada preferable to the UK and the US as study destinations.
Also, the Canadian dollar to Nigerian naira (Nigerian currency) exchange rate is more affordable than the British pound and the US dollar.
About Neo-liberal immigration policy
According to Harvey’s 2005 definition, neoliberalism is “a theory of political, economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterised by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.“
Neoliberalism, therefore, has had an impact on government policies concerning immigration and immigration settlement in Canada.
According to research, Canada’s immigration system has followed the trend of neo-liberalization and privatisation, particularly in terms of how it targets young, skilled, highly productive, educated, and self-sufficient immigrants. It also increasingly accepts employer-driven pathways to residency.
According to Adetunji & Olatunji (2021), “Academic institutions in developed countries reinforce their domination because they are more resourced….higher tuition rates for international students are a source of revenue for post-secondary institutions”.
The implication of this is that the higher tuition paid by international students supplements the declining public funding of Canadian post-secondary institutions while also providing international students with the opportunity for employment and permanent residence in Canada.
Canadian Experience Class
In 2008, the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) was established. The CEC allows international students who have graduated from a Canadian university, as well as highly skilled temporary workers, to apply for permanent residency without leaving Canada, provided they have skilled work experience, legal residence in the country, and proficiency in English or French.
Implication for Canada and Nigeria
Suffice to say that by paying expensive tuition fees, paying high living expenses, and working as students, these international students help Canada’s economy grow.
In exchange, however, they eventually become Canadian permanent residents and reap the rewards of that status.
The report concludes that Canada and Nigeria seem to be in a win-win situation because the economic and educational gaps in Nigeria have been the “push factor” responsible for the migration of its people via study routes, whereas the “pull factor” is the attraction of Canada to prospective migrants/immigrants who fund their education system and economy by and large.