A new report from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) provides further confirmation that international students are coming to study in Canada in record numbers. RBC, one of Canada’s largest financial institutions, highlights particular growth in the number of middle-class students from India, China, and other emerging markets choosing to pursue higher education in Canada.
Federal government efforts to boost the number of international students here have coincided with rising middle-class incomes in some emerging market countries, spurring many prospective students to choose Canada. Helping the country’s case: relatively attractive tuition fees and a reputation for quality education. Those factors will bolster Canada’s position as a top learning destination despite intense global competition for talent. What matters after that is what Canada does to retain the talent.
RBC notes that international student enrolment in Canada has witnessed stable growth over past months and years. Almost 415,000 international students were studying in Canada in 2016, the report found, demonstrating that international student enrolment more than doubled in ten years. While the number of international students in Canada is still lower than in countries with comparable education systems, such as the US, Australia, and the UK, Canada is witnessing a faster rate of growth than these countries.
Most of this growth can be attributed to three source countries — China, India, and France, respectively. The report states that a growing middle class in the economies of various emerging markets has resulted in a larger pool of potential international students. As the economies of emerging markets grow, a wider and more diverse range of talented young people are looking to study and begin careers abroad, and have the resources to do so. Canada has already benefited from this growth, and it is expected that this will continue.
Meanwhile, the economic benefits of studying in Canada are becoming more well-known. ‘The high quality of Canadian post-secondary education comes at an attractive price when compared to other advanced economies, notably the US. Tuition fees for international students vary significantly by program and institution in Canada, but the average fee of $22,000 CAD in 2015/16 compares to fees in excess of $33,000 USD to study south of the border,’ states the report.
Not only are tuition fees for international students in Canada lower than in countries with comparable education systems, but options for financial support during and after studies also attract many potential students to consider Canada. The country is almost unique in its range of work options for students and graduates. Most international students in Canada may work during their studies, for up to 20 hours per week during the semester, and full-time during scheduled breaks. Accompanying spouses and common-law partners may obtain an open work permit, allowing them to work full-time for any employer, without a job offer. Upon graduation, international students may obtain an open Post Graduation Work Permit valid for up to three years. In comparison, neither the US, the UK, nor Australia offers such flexible and open work options to international students and graduates, and their spouses/common-law partners.
The Trump Bump
Highlighting recent changes to Canada’s Express Entry immigration system that benefit international students, RBC notes that ‘these changes come amid signs of increased anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S., which in turn, may lure prospective students to Canada.’ While the improvements to immigration options for international graduates were not introduced in response to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, RBC is not alone in drawing comparisons between growing anti-immigrant sentiment at the highest levels of government in the United States, and the increasing openness of Canada’s higher education and immigration systems.
News media has frequently reported that more international students are considering Canada as a study destination, and that enrolment figures are rising as a result. Coupled with ongoing improvements to Canada’s immigration system, this trend of increasing interest suggests a strong future for Canada as a significant destination for international students.
As the report states, ‘It is too early to gauge the overall impact that these changes could have collectively, although they are likely to provide a further boost to Canada as a destination of choice for foreign students.’
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.
If you want to discover your options for studying in Canada, complete the free CanadaVisa Study Pathway Assessment Form today.
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