March 28, 2018 – A new survey of international students has revealed Canada is fast catching the U.S. and U.K. among the world’s most popular destinations for young people looking to study abroad.
The 2018 edition of the QS Applicant Survey shows Canada could be about to overtake the U.K. and become the second most popular study destination behind the U.S.
Experts see the change as a reaction to political shifts in both countries. While the U.S. is pursuing anti-immigrant policies under Donald Trump, the U.K. has voted to leave the European Union, with a central issue being freedom of movement.
Meanwhile, Canada is focused on increasing immigration, with encouraging international graduates to stay and build their careers here a central policy of the federal Liberal government.
International Students: Preferred Study Destinations
Source: QS Applicant Survey 2018
The QS Application Survey says that although Canada remains third overall, it beats both the U.S. and the U.K. in attracting students from specific regions.
“Canada remains the third most-popular study destination, and in many cases, outperforms the UK and the US when target destinations are broken down by country, especially in the Middle East region,” the report says.
U.S. Government data shows a sharp drop of 17 per cent in the number of study permits issued to students from overseas in the year to September 30, 2017.
At the same time, Canadian universities have seen nearly an 11 per cent increase in their international student numbers, suggesting Canada is attracting at least some of those put off the U.S. by the Trump administration.
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A three-step process has been established in Canada targeting international students. First, they hold Study Permits while in full time education, second, they become eligible for a Post Graduation Work Permit, and third, they can use all the experience gathered to qualify for permanent residence.
It has made Canada one of the more attractive countries in the world for foreign students considering their study options. Figures from Universities Canada show a 10.7 per cent increase in the number of international students, country-wide.
Canadian University International Student Cohort, 2017 Increase
|Province||2017 Increase (%)|
|Newfoundland & Labrador||10.5|
|Prince Edward Island||12.8|
Figures: Universities Canada
Ottawa recently announced that it will accept nearly a million new permanent residents over the next three years, and a significant chunk of those are expected to be international students who are graduates from Canadian universities.
The federal government sees them as blue chip new permanent residents: young people with a Canadian education, knowledge of the official languages, often with Canadian work experience and knowledge of how life works here. This puts them already on the pathway to integration, a crucial buzz word at IRCC.
Since coming to power in fall 2015, the Liberal government has attempted to make it easier for international students to gain permanent residence.
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At the federal level, the government has introduced points under Canada Express Entry. In November 2016, Comprehensive Ranking System points were added for three-year post secondary, master’s, professional degrees and doctorates (30 CRS points) and post-secondary diplomas lasting one or two years (15 CRS points). No points are awarded for a Canadian high school education or below. This gives many graduates the extra push they need to achieve a coveted Invitation to Apply.
The federal government and relevant provinces also promote the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, which includes a category aimed at international graduates. It was introduced earlier in 2017 to try and reverse aging populations and shrinking labour markets in the Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Provincial International Graduate Programs
In Quebec, the international graduate stream, which forms part of the Quebec Experience Program, is the only provincial program that offers permanent immigration to diploma and undergraduate degree holders, without a job offer.
The category imposes an advanced intermediate oral French requirement, but this stipulation is waived if half of the candidate’s studies are completed in Quebec and the qualification is recognized by the province. Candidates must either complete their studies in French or pass a French language test to transition to Canadian permanent residence.
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The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program runs a similar program without the need for a job offer, but it is aimed at Master’s and PhD graduates. The education requirement, therefore, is much more onerous, and the candidate must have English or French at Canadian Benchmark Level 7 or higher. The Ontario Master’s and PhD streams are open periodically throughout the year.
International students can already qualify to work in Canada after graduation by applying for a Post Graduate Work Permit. Here they can gain valuable Canadian work experience through a special work permit issued for the length of the study program, up to a maximum of three years. The work experience could then be used to qualify for permanent residence, through one of the above avenues.
Post Graduation Work Permit Requirements
- Studied full time in Canada in a program of at least 8 months duration.
- Graduated from a public post-secondary institution, a private post-secondary institution, or a private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees.
- Submit an application for a work permit within 90 days after receiving written confirmation of completing a study program.
- Received notification of eligibility to obtain a degree, diploma or certificate.
- Possess a valid Canada study visa or Canada study permit.
Citizenship Made Easier
Recent changes to Canadian citizenship requirements are also beneficial to international students, allowing them to count their time spent in Canada while studying towards a citizenship application. Study permit holders can count a half day for each full day spent in Canada towards a citizenship application, up to a maximum of a year.
At the same time the overall physical presence requirement was reduced from four years in six to three years in five, allowing international students to become Canadian citizens just two years after becoming a permanent resident.
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