Volume 95, Issue 36
Tuesday, November 6, 2001
No restrictions on foreign students
'Incorrect information seems to have spread'
By Erin Conway-Smith
The federal government has dismissed a Canadian student group's concern that foreign students have been treated unfairly due to their nationality.
In recent weeks, the Canadian Federation of Students has said the federal government may be filtering-out students from suspected terrorist nations.
Susan Scarlett, departmental spokesperson for the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, said there has been no change in the ministry's foreign students program since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
"I think some incorrect information seems to have spread quite far," she said.
"We don't do ethnic profiling. Every application is assessed on its own merits it's a very Canadian way of going about it. Every [application] is as individual as the person applying," Scarlett said.
"Canada welcomes foreign students [they're] a big priority for us," she said, emphasizing the important role foreign students play in Canada's academic community.
When assessing student applications to study in Canada, Scarlett said, some of the requirements include whether a prospective individual can afford to be a Canadian student and whether they are a "genuine student."
"If a person applying as a student does not meet requirements, their application is refused," she said. "One factor is whether the person could be a threat to Canada's security. If the person is a security risk, the application would be refused."
Jenn Anthony, CFS deputy chairperson, said the student group is concerned about the application process and is currently trying to clarify the exact criteria for which international students can be restricted.
"We are now in the process of searching parliamentary documents about foreign student authorizations it takes a while to go through and figure out what we're looking for," she said.
"We're not opposed to there being security checks on people we are opposed to defining security checks by country of origin, [which] essentially amounts to skin colour," she added.
Scarlett said there is no blanket prohibition of students from any particular nation or on international students wishing to pursue any specific programs, as had been suggested by some published reports.
Once a student has gained access to Canada they may have to consult the government if they wish to switch schools, Scarlett explained.
"When you apply to study in Canada, it is for a particular school and program. A person is issued a student authorization," she said. "If a student wants to change schools they would need to go to immigration and have documents updated."
"From our standpoint, nothing has changed since Sept. 11," said Rose Aquino, Western's international student advisor.
While the government may have to be consulted if a student switches schools, Aquino said she knew of no restrictions for international students wanting to switch programs.
Copyright © The Gazette 2001