December 15, 2016 – Simple tweaks in the way universities operate could make life much easier for international students in Canada – but overall, they quickly get used to their new life and enjoy their time here.
Cheaper tuition fees, a simpler visa process and better post-graduation job prospects – even before recent Express Entry modifications – are key advantages of studying in Canada.
But students could also be better prepared for life when they arrive.
Various reported problems include not being aware of Canadian customs such as holding open a door, or not being used to the process of paying bills electronically.
For those originating in China, it can be hard to do any preparation before arrival because of the country’s strict laws on what is accessible online.
Cultural awareness sessions would be beneficial, according to some students, while being allocated a senior student buddy on arrival has also proven successful.
Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
America has traditionally dominated the market for foreign students, but fears over what Donald Trump’s presidency could mean for life in the country as an immigrant means many are now looking north of the border at what Canadian schools have to offer.
The perceptions of Canada and the U.S. could not be more different in the international community. While the U.S. was electing Trump on November 8, Canada has recently announced sustained record immigration numbers and tweaked its immigration system to help satisfy economic needs.
One of those tweaks will make it easier for international students to begin their working lives in Canada once they graduate, a policy change so timely in terms of what is happening in the U.S. that it appears to have been made in reaction to Trump’s victory.
Obviously, that is not the case – Immigration Minister John McCallum has been hinting for months that international graduates are his number one target as new permanent residents.
The carrot of being given a pathway to permanent residence after graduation gives Canada an overwhelmingly strong case for drawing away some of the more than a million international students attending U.S. schools in 2016.
It was widely reported on election night that the website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada crashed as Americans looked for a way out from living under a Trump administration.
But there was also a surge in traffic to the websites of Canada’s top universities, including Toronto and McGill. Given that most courses begin in September, the full picture may not emerge for some time, but there is certainly the feeling that schools here are in for a bigger slice of what is a lucrative industry.
International students pay up to two or three times the tuition fees of Canadian students, making them key contributors to the budgets of the top universities across the country.
One estimate suggested the U.S. international student population was worth $32 billion a year to its economy.
International Graduates Under Express Entry
Changes made to Canada’s Express Entry System mean international students completing recognized degrees and diplomas in Canada are now specifically awarded points for the first time.
Students completing a three-year post secondary, master’s, professional degree or doctorate will get 30 extra points, while those who complete a post secondary diploma of at least one year duration score 15 points. No points are awarded for a high school certificate obtained in Canada.
Points Awarded for Canadian Education Under Express Entry
|Education Level||Number of Points|
|One or two-year post secondary||15|
|Three-year post secondary, master’s,|
professional degree or doctorate
In order to score Canadian education points, the candidate must have:
- Studied in Canada at a Canadian educational institution.
- Been enrolled in full-time study or training for at least eight months.
- Been physically present in Canada for at least eight months.
Provinces Switch Focus to International Students
Canada’s provinces are already focusing on attracting international students to their universities, and on welcoming international graduates through their immigration programs.
The last three rounds of invitations issued under British Columbia’s Provincial Nominee Program have been heavily weighted towards international graduates.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia has introduced a pilot program designed to attract international graduates to remain in the province.
Graduates in fields such as health care, entrepreneurship, computer engineering and ocean sciences will see their salaries subsidized under the program, initially open to 50 graduates.
The University of Prince Edward Island is also increasing its international student recruitment efforts following significant success in growing its cohort.
With numbers of Canadian-born undergraduates dropping off in recent years, the school now relies on students from abroad to drive growth in enrollment numbers.
The latest figures from 2015 show 17 per cent of the overall student population is from overseas – or 748 out of total enrollment of 4,317.
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