The annual survey, known as the ICEF-igraduate Agent Barometer, queries education agents in more than 100 countries about the international study destinations of choice for students in their respective countries.
This 2017 survey was conducted between September and October and received responses from 1,456 agents.
The findings reveal insights on why students choose certain countries and institutions, and explains shifts in destination appeal and student perceptions.
Student destination preferences and concerns
Among other issues the survey examines student concerns in eight key categories, including study visa requirements, financial issues, safety and security concerns and more.
Survey results indicate heightened concerns for personal safety and recent changes in the political climate in the United States and United Kingdom have made both countries less desirable options for international students.
This finding was echoed by a survey of more than 2,000 American colleges and universities that revealed enrolments of international students at American universities started to plateau in the fall of 2016. Ever since, there has been a downward trend in new enrolments, and 45 per cent of the universities surveyed reported plummeting international student numbers in the fall of 2017.
Universities in other countries are benefitting from this trend, and Canadian universities in particular.
The Canadian advantage
Canada was not only the most attractive choice for study among international students, but 2016 enrolment data show a 17.5 per cent increase in the number of foreign students at Canadian universities.
“The number of international students coming to Canada continues to grow,” said Angie Baroque, senior policy analyst with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). “Usually the average [annual] growth rate is about 9%, so this represents a really sharp increase from 2015 to 2016.”
The reasons for Canada’s popularity, however, might have less to do with the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump than they do with more quotidian concerns.
The latest IDP Student Buyer Behaviour Survey shows Canada gaining in attractiveness as a result of factors like affordability, safety, graduate employment opportunities, and visa requirements.
Moreover, International students in Canada demonstrated higher levels of satisfaction thanks to study experiences that met or exceeded their expectations across several factors.
Canada has many attractions for people looking to study abroad. Not only do students have access to a variety of scholarships, but international students may also be able to work off-campus during their studies.
Whether it is an internship to gain experience in the field or a service job to fund living expenses, international students have access to a wide range of employment possibilities during their studies in Canada. The ability to work while studying is often an important part of a prospective student’s decision to pursue higher education in Canada.
After graduation, international graduates from Canadian colleges and universities continue to benefit from incentives to work and settle in Canada.
For example, eligible graduates do not need a job offer or minimum salary to apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP), an open work permit that is valid for up to three years depending on the program of study completed.
Experience gained while working with a PGWP can be counted towards an application for permanent residence through many programs, including the Canadian Experience Class, Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), and the Quebec Experience Class.
Former international students are a key source of candidates in IRCC’s Express Entry system for economic immigration because of their age, education, skills and experience. This fact was noted in IRCC’s 2016 year-end report: “In addition to the time already spent in Canada, integrating into Canadian society permanently will be easier because they will have established social networks and they will have familiarized themselves with life in Canada.”
Learn more about immigration options after graduation for international students in Canada.
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.
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