Canadian universities are reporting a significant increase in applications from American students for the 2017-2018 academic year, in some cases receiving up to 80 percent more applications than last year.
Media reports have largely attributed this upsurge to the result of the presidential election in the United States on November 8, 2016. There was much media attention surrounding a sudden rush of interest from Americans looking to move to Canada after the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president. American students, international students studying in the U.S., and prospective students around the world were reported to be among the most concerned by the election result, and many were reported to be considering Canada as another study option.
However, it is only in the early weeks of 2017 that a real indication of a rise in applicants for Canadian universities and colleges has been seen. This is likely due to the application cycle in Canada, in which prospective students submit their university and college applications in December, January, and February for entry for the next academic year, which begins in September.
Ontario universities reported some of the most significant increases. By the end of December, 2016, University of Toronto had received 80 percent more applications from American students compared to the same time in 2015. Trent University witnessed an increase of 60 percent, and McMaster University 34 percent.
It is important to note that application numbers do not necessarily reflect enrolment numbers. Whether the surge in applications results in more American students enrolling in Canadian universities will not be seen until applicants receive a letter of acceptance, and enroll in the program.
Reasons for the surge
University representatives state that the increase can likely be attributed to a number of factors, and not only the election result. Statistics from the U.S. show application levels are rising there as well — between 9 and 18 percent at renowned universities, including Yale, Columbia, Cornell, and Princeton. Part of the increase in applications at Canadian institutions may be due to more Americans considering higher education options, including those in Canada.
Another key factor mentioned by many university admissions staff is the financial incentive of studying in Canada. While tuition fees for international students in Canada are higher than those for domestic students, the total is often still lower than the fees at a comparable university in the U.S. According to Statistics Canada, the average tuition fees for international students in Canada were $22,000 CAD in 2016. This equates to approximately $16,700 USD. American students studying in their own country may expect to pay even more than this — in some cases, many times more. Added to that is the current weakness of the Canadian dollar, which can result in further savings on living expenses and travel, as well as tuition.
Furthermore, several Canadian universities are actively expanding their recruitment efforts in the U.S. Such efforts include panel discussions, and working with alumni, explained University of Toronto’s vice-president international, Ted Sargent.
“Toronto’s reputation as a great city has grown, Canadian politics moved in a more open and inclusive direction and then there was also Trump’s election,” Sargent said, speaking in December 2016 to the Associated Press.
Studying as a Pathway to Permanent Residence
Americans who are considering moving to Canada may find that pursuing a study program opens doors to exciting opportunities for permanent immigration. Most international students in Canada are able to work during their studies.
After graduation from an eligible study program in Canada, foreign nationals may obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), allowing them to work for any employer anywhere in Canada for up to three years. Moreover, employment on a PGWP is not restricted to skilled occupations. In addition, candidates to the federal Express Entry immigration selection system can receive additional points under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) for Canadian educational credentials. Consequently, international graduates in the Express Entry pool may find their profiles sufficiently competitive to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in the periodic draws conducted by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Most Canadian provinces and territories have specific streams of their Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) targeting international graduates. International graduates may be able to obtain a Provincial Nomination Certificate, which may expedite processing times for an application permanent resident status.
The province of Quebec has a separate immigration category, the Quebec Experience Class (Programme de l’expérience Québécoise, or PEQ), for individuals with experience working or studying in Quebec. Through this category, an eligible graduate of a study program in Quebec may obtain a Quebec Selection Certificate (Certificat de sélection du Québec, or CSQ) in under a month, and subsequently apply to the federal government for permanent resident status.
Learn more about immigration options after graduation for international students in Canada.
U.S. citizens thinking of moving to Canada to study can learn more about the process and other considerations.
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