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Canada’s international student enrolment

With a 94 % increase of international students during the last decade, Canada is becoming an increasingly important destination for higher education as well as education in general. A new study published by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) reveals interesting figures on incoming and outgoing student mobility and the importance of international student mobility for Canadian higher education.

The report A World of Learning – Canada’s Performance and Potential in International Education finds that with 265 000 international students, Canada has become the 7th most popular host country, with the US, the UK, China, France, Germany and Australia ahead. Yet, the report comes accompanied by a tiny flaw for the purpose of analysing figures in higher education – on the one hand, numbers refer to students at all levels, slightly enhancing the overall student number, on the other hand, international tertiary education students coming to Canada for one semester-long exchange programmes are not included. In fact, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) does not collect data on incoming students who stay less than six months.

Leaving aside all forms of education below post-secondary education, the percentage of international post-secondary education students in Canada accounts for 81 % of the overall number of 265 000 international students provided by the report. Consequently, tertiary education numbers differ slightly from the general numbers provided by CBIE. The majority of international students come from China with 30.9 %, followed by India with 13.1 %, Saudi Arabia with 5.6 %, South Korea with 5.4 % and France and the US with both 4.9 %.

Overall, the report finds that international students contribute greatly to Canada’s economy through spending on tuition and living costs of CAD 7.7 billion (EUR 5.313 billion) and through the creation of 81 000 jobs. And Canada is gaining ground on popularity – only 20 % indicated that they had applied to other countries than Canada in comparison to 45 % according to last year’s report. One interesting aspect becomes clear in which way student mobility is also seen as a way of long-term migration – 67 % of students who participated in a survey stated that opportunities to become a permanent resident of Canada has been a very important or essential factor in their choice to study in Canada. The number of post-graduation work permits has risen by 151 % from 10 872 in 2007 to 27 341, according to data by CIC. Permanent residence permits for international students, however, have decreased by 17 % since 2007 to 8 667 in 2010.

Canada faces a similar situation as the US and the UK concerning its rather low degree of outgoing mobility. Acknowledging a number of flaws on record-keeping for outgoing student mobility, the CBIE report shows that number of Canadian students overseas hardly amounts to more than 3.3 %

Overall, Canada provides an attractive study destination for higher education as other Anglo-Saxon countries, with the additional ‘bonus’ of its French language province Quebec. Canada’s next reachable goal would be to outpace Australia among the most popular study destinations for international student mobility.

CBIE - Press release

CBIE - Report