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Government sends mixed messages on commitment to international graduate immigration

For immediate release

Halifax, Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia students greeted the Province’s decision to permit international graduates to access the Provincial Nominee Program’s Skilled Worker stream with confusion. While the change may facilitate some students’ immigration, it comes only weeks after the government cut $35 million from retention of domestic and international graduates.

“We are pleased that the Province, universities and businesses are increasingly recognizing international students’ significant immigration potential,” said StudentsNS Executive Director Jonathan Williams. “However, today’s positive announcement is overshadowed by the government’s decision to cut $35 million from youth retention just two months ago.”

“Many international students would like to stay in Nova Scotia after graduation and making the immigration process easier is helpful”, said Gorba Bhandari, President of Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association. “We have to do much more to support international students’ integration into Nova Scotia’s workforce and communities because you cannot stay if you cannot find work and you will not want to stay if you do not feel welcome.”

International enrolment at Nova Scotia universities increased by 148% between 2000-01 and 2010-11 and the number of visa students in 2012-13 was equal to 53% of the total number of Nova Scotia’s external migrants recorded in the last census. StudentsNS estimates that the number of international students will continue to rise as universities will need to double their international enrolment between 2011-12 and 2030-31 to maintain the system’s overall size.

“One investment would be to provide international students with health cards, just like four other provinces, to help them be successful, healthy and see what the Nova Scotia healthcare system has to offer for residents”, said Bhandari. “Actions speak louder than words: health insurance would cost only $0.5 million, but this government chose instead to cut $35 million from supports for graduates.”

StudentsNS’ 2013 and 2014 pre-budget submissions called for international students to receive MSI coverage and are available at www.studentsns.ca/research/reports/

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Students Nova Scotia is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy group that represents 37,794 Nova Scotia post-secondary students, including 86% of the university student population. Our members study at Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, and St. Francis Xavier Universities, the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, and the Atlantic School of Theology.

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For more information or questions, please contact:

Jonathan Williams, StudentsNS Executive Director

(C) 902.483.5480

(E) director@studentsns.ca

or

Gorba Bhandari, SMUSA President

(C) 902.999.1730

(E) president.smusa@smu.ca

Kate Elliot