International students are heading to Canada in their droves, attracted by the high quality of education and the opportunity to live and work in the country after graduation.
Alberta alone has seen numbers jump 40 per cent to 18,203 for the 2015-2016 academic year from 13,145 in 2011-2012.
The figures chime with Immigration Minister John McCallum’s aim of attracting more international students, and giving them more points under the Express Entry system so they qualify for permanent residence after graduation.
Alberta’s neighbours, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, have similar increases to report.
In Manitoba, the numbers have almost doubled in the time between 2011-2012 and 2015-2016, from 4,700 to more than 9,000. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, saw a 24 per cent rise.
With overall enrolments declining in some areas of Canada, the continuing increase in international students is crucial to make up the numbers and bring in important revenue.
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Tuition fees can be three times the amount for international students when compared with Canadians. The University of Alberta, for example, starts at $8,000 for domestic students, but rises to $26,000 for students from overseas.
Despite the increases in international student numbers, the provincial government in Alberta still had to pay out $16 million to help universities short on funding.
Students from overseas are known for having clear career goals when they come to do courses in Canada.
Instead of enrolling on courses because the subjects interest them, they are far more likely to look to degrees with transferable skills and direct pathways into the workforce.
Out of the major English-speaking countries looking to attract international students, Canada is the only one to include the incentive of the opportunity to gain permanent residence after graduation.
Australia, the US and the UK do not make it as easy. And with McCallum’s plan expected to be announced in the fall, it is likely to become even easier.
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