This number represents a 20 per cent jump over 2016 and surpasses the Government of Canada’s International Education Strategy goal of 450,000 international students in Canada by 2022.
Even though the number represents international students pursuing all levels of Canadian education, it is worth noting that the number of international students in Canadian post-secondary institutions has been on the rise over the past three years.
In a media release Karen McBride, President and CEO of CBIE said, ‘our research shows that international students choose Canada because of the quality of the Canadian education system and our reputation as a safe and tolerant country.’
This statement is supported by results from a 2017 industry survey, which named Canada as the most attractive study destination for international students due to reasons, such as affordability, safety and work opportunities in the country. Many students with a Canadian study permit may be able to get a job on and/or off-campus during their studies.
The results of the survey further revealed a decline in students interested in the United Kingdom and the United States as countries of choice for study. This decline is attributed to increasing concerns for personal safety and the changing pollical climate in both countries.
Another trend highlighted by CBIE is the top three countries origin of international students coming to Canada. Vietnam, India, and Iran appear to be the fastest growing source countries of foreign students choosing to study in Canada. However, China continues to be the top country of origin of international students, who make 28 per cent of students moving to Canada for education purposes.
Studying in Canada as a pathway to permanent residence
Another goal highlighted by the federal government in the International Education Strategy is, “to increase the number of students choosing to remain in Canada as permanent residents after graduation.”
According to recent data from CBIE’s International Student Survey, 51 per cent of international students in Canada intend to apply for Canadian immigration after their studies.
Canada recognizes the impact international education has on the economy. Recent reports indicate that international students contributed $12.8 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2016. This figure represents a 22 per cent increase over 2015.
The Canadian government provides various services at the federal and provincial level in order to support the settlement of international students in the country after completing their studies.
One key program offers some international graduates an open post-graduation work permit for up to three years to work anywhere in Canada and gain skilled work experience without the requirement of a job offer.
Canada also recognizes international graduates as ideal candidates for Canadian immigration. Government reports indicate that factors such as age, education, skills, and adaptability make international students key players in the Express Entry selection system for economic immigration.
The majority of provinces in Canada offer streamlined programs or categories catering to graduates of Canadian post-secondary institutions who intend to settle in the province.
Speaking at a parliamentary meeting, Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen stated, “part of our push for multi-year planning is to have more space for international students and other skilled individuals who would like to live in Canada.”
The dynamic nature of Canada’s immigration policies, which is in most cases favor international students’ retention, places Canada among the top choices for prospective international students worldwide.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the total number of international students in Canada as of December 31, 2017, was 495,525 based on a news release provided by the Canadian Bureau for International Education. However, this figure has now been updated to reflect Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada data.
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