October 17, 2018 – Canada is enjoying surging success in attracting international students through innovative study permit programs, including an established post-graduation work permit program and a clear pathway to permanent residence.
The federal government has developed a strategy not only to attract foreign students, but to allow them to stay and build careers in Canada.
After targeting 450,000 international students by 2022, Canada eclipsed that target at the end of 2017, when there were 494,525 study permit holders across all levels of study.
Foreign post-secondary admissions jumped by 20 per cent between 2016 and 2017 to touch 370,975 students.
Source: Statistics Canada
Candidates are being drawn here by the prospect of building a new life, instead of just getting a qualification.
Important reasons for Canada’s popularity include:
- Expedited visa processing for certain eligible students from China, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
- Hassle-free post-study work opportunities for up to three years.
- Extra points awarded under Express Entry for foreign students graduating from Canadian institutions.
- Innovative programs and options like Study and Stay in Nova Scotia and the rest of Atlantic Canada.
In 2015, five out of 10 international students said they wish to work in Canada after graduation. Now, seven in 10 say they have career ambitions. Meanwhile, six in 10 say they intend to become Canadian permanent residents.
The largest source countries include China, India, Mexica, and, post the US travel ban, Iran. For these countries, Canada scores high on three important parameters – quality, affordability, and post-graduation opportunities.
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Despite the recent Saudi Arabia controversy and worries of straining capacities in metro areas, Canada remains best equipped to handle economic and geopolitical risks faced by countries seeking to boost foreign enrollments.
As per latest numbers released by UNESCO, the total number of international students in the world has risen from 800,000 in 1978 to more than 4.5 million in 2013.
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The international higher education system is in the midst of a period of instability due to political flux in traditionally popular destinations like the U.S. and the U.K.
Canada is well-placed to gain from these changes and is likely to become more popular among foreign students, something also likely to aid its effort to attract more skilled worker immigrants.
Watch: How International Students Can Become Canadian Permanent Residents
Losing Foreign Students: US and UK
After decades of steady growth, student visa data released by US universities suggests the country is fast falling out of favour with international students.
A lack of government incentives, scholarships and affordability concerns apart, the primary factor contributing to this fall is the uncertainty around visa policies.
Historically, gaining a degree in the US was considered the easiest and most reliable route to working and, ultimately, settling in the country.
Now, students are worrying about post-study work opportunities, availability of H-1B visas, lack of work permits for spouses of skilled workers, and the anti-immigrant stance of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Meanwhile, the U.K. has seen growth of just 4 per cent in foreign admissions between academic years 2012-13 and 2016-17.
In 2016-17, around a third of the 442,000 international students in the U.K. came from other E.U. countries.
A hard Brexit will mean more than 125.000 foreign students may simply ignore the UK as a foreign study destination.
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