The Liberal government had exceeded its projected target for international student visas by nearly 100,000 last year.

There were nearly a million valid international student permits issued as of last November, 100,000 more than the 900,000 figure announced last August by Immigration Minister Marc Miller.

Data disclosed in response to a House of Commons order paper question on Monday revealed that Canada had a staggering 981,192 study permit holders as of Nov. 30, 2023.

Of these, 336,636 were held by students at universities, with 129,792 in postgraduate studies, explained Miller’s parliamentary secretary, Paul Chiang. 

Last summer, Miller initially presented the 900,000 figure without considering a cap on the number of international students while facing growing pressure to cut down the number amid rising cost of living and housing challenges. 

“Just putting a hard cap, which got a lot of public play over the last few days, is not the only solution to this,” he remarked at the time. 

“Core to this is actually trying to figure out what the problem is we’re trying to solve for. It isn’t entirely housing, it’s more appropriately the integrity of the system that has mushroomed, ballooned in the past couple of years.” 

However, a few months later, the government reversed course, announcing a two-year cap on international student admissions. This decision was aimed at a 35% reduction in the number of permit holders.

“In recent years, the integrity of the international student system has been threatened,” said the federal government in its announcement. 

“Some institutions have significantly increased their intakes to drive revenues, and more students have been arriving in Canada without the proper supports they need to succeed. Rapid increases in the number of international students arriving in Canada also puts pressure on housing, health care, and other services.”