In recent months, various media sites have repeatedly featured reports of a surging interest in Canada as an international study destination. This interest heightened further in the weeks following the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States in November, 2016. However, it was unclear at the time whether this well-publicised increase in interest and applications would translate into actual increases in international students in Canada. Now, it is clear that this is the case, as institutions across Canada have reported significant increases in international student enrolment for the 2017/2018 academic year.
International students from around the world are perceiving Canada as a more open option for higher education, compared to countries with similar education systems, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. The election of Donald Trump, and the decision of the UK voting public to leave the European Union (a move known as ‘Brexit’) are widely credited with dissuading international students from studying in these two countries, where rising hostility to foreign nationals and immigration is frequently reported in the news, and voiced by some leading politicians.
There may be other factors working in addition to political events. Several institutions in Canada have significantly increased their international recruitment efforts, to raise awareness among students about Canada’s excellent education system, comparatively low tuition and living expenses, and open culture.
All the stars are aligned right now, and this is sort of Canada’s moment — Chris Mota, Concordia University
Chris Mota, university spokesperson for Concordia University, said, “we can never say 100% what the reasons are for that. We can draw some conclusions based on a number of factors and I think they all come into play. The political situation not just in the United States, I might add, but Brexit, the tensions in France when people didn’t know which way the French vote was going to go — there are countries perhaps where students would have considered studying in the past that they’re thinking twice about.”
In contrast, Canada is frequently perceived as an open and safe country. Richard Levin, executive director of enrolment services and university registrar at the University of Toronto, has also attributed the growth in popularity of Canada as a study destination to ‘the perception of Canada as a particularly welcoming, stable, tolerant and inclusive destination.’
Mota concurred — “Canada provides a level of stability and comfort, we’re ranked well, we’re a safe country… I think all the stars are aligned right now, and this is sort of Canada’s moment, and we’re definitely seeing it.”
The proof is in the numbers
Across Canada, universities are reporting record numbers of applications from potential international students — and these are converting into admissions.
The interest is notable among American students — the University of Toronto has reported that double the number of American students have accepted an offer compared to last year. However, it is not only Americans looking to leave the United States for the duration of Trump’s first term as president, who are accepting places at Canadian universities. At the University of Toronto, the number of students from India increased by 75 per cent compared to 2016.
Brock University in Ontario has seen an increase of 30 percent in the number of international applicants compared to the same time last year. Among students from countries that were affected by the US travel ban, this figure rose to 67 percent, and applications from Indian and Mexican students more than doubled.
“Brock is also seeing significant increases in the diversity of international students,” said James Mandigo, Vice Provost, Enrolment Management & International at Brock University. “For example, countries in Southern Asia have seen a 71 percent increase in applicants. This includes India — more than double the number of applicants compared to last year — and Pakistan – nearly a 50 percent increase.” So far this has also translated into increased enrolment — in the early stages, Brock has seen an increase of 36 percent in the number of international students accepting their admission offer, notably among Indian, Ghanaian, and Nigerian students.
Concordia University has also seen ongoing and significant increases in applications from students around the world, at undergraduate and graduate level. Applications to undergraduate programs from American applicants grew 23 percent in the period from May 5, 2016 to May 5, 2017. Over that same period, graduate applications from Americans grew 74 percent, while undergraduate applications from Mexican students surged by 325 percent, and from Indian students, 233 percent.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase,” Mota confirmed. “We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve seen steady increases over the years… but this year it’s going to be higher… So yes, we’re seeing it, we’re not alone.”
Meanwhile, in western Canada, the University of Alberta received 82 percent more international graduate applications compared to 2016, and 27 percent more international undergraduate applications. There were notable increases at both levels from American, Indian, and Iranian students, noted Julia Jones-Bourque, Marketing & Communications Manager at the University of Alberta. “We welcome in growing interest in studying in Canada and expect this development to be more than a one year anomaly — we expect to see strong numbers also in the coming years,” she said.
While the University of Calgary was unable to provide specifics at this stage in the admission cycle, Angelique Saweczko, Registrar at the University of Calgary, stated, “the University of Calgary has seen an overall increase in international applications this year. The increases have been across the board, two notable countries for increases are Iran and the United States.” She noted that particular increases have been seen in various areas of the Arts, Science, Engineering, and Business faculties.
Colleges have also seen their share of increases in enrolment figures. From 2011 to 2016, the number of international students at Centennial College increased by 78 percent. This continues to grow — current international enrolment is approximately 6,800 students. Ann Buller, President and CEO of Centennial College in Toronto, said, “International students are important to Centennial College. They help us fulfil our vision to grow students into global citizens and foster international exchange. Domestic students become exposed to different cultures, languages and people, while our international students are able to integrate in Canada’s liberal and multicultural society.”
At Algonquin College, international enrolment figures are also moving from strength to strength. “We continue to see year-over-year increases of 15 percent, with India and Vietnam providing strong growth,” said Ernest Mulvey, Director of Algonquin College’s International Education Centre. “This has translated into an actual increase in international students accepting our admission offers.”
The first step
Many of these future international students are taking the first step on their pathway to Canadian permanent resident status. As countries around the world close their borders, Canada expands its efforts to attract newcomers. International students are seen as a key source of future immigrants, and various policies exist to ease the immigration process for those interested in building a life in Canada.
If you want to discover your options for studying in Canada, or staying in Canada after graduation, complete the free CanadaVisa Study Pathway Assessment Form today.
International students and post-graduate workers in Canada can join the CanadaVisa Study Hub for a chance to win a $500 scholarship. Members also get access to exclusive notifications, tools and resources to help maximize their time in Canada and pursue a pathway to permanent residence.
© 2017 CanadaStudyNews All Rights Reserved