At 37.8 per cent, Canada outranked the U.K as the second most popular country for applicants in these two regions and came a close second to the United States, which placed ahead of Canada by less than 0.2 per cent. Last year, Canada ranked third for applicants from Africa and the Middle East.
Overall, however, the survey found the U.S. and U.K. are still considered the top countries for international education due to “the prestige of their institutions.” Canada was the top pick among 34 per cent of all applicants, which put it third overall behind the U.S. (48 per cent) and the U.K. (42 per cent).
The study notes, however, that Canada in many cases outranks the U.S. and the U.K. when target destinations are broken down by country, especially in the Middle East region.
The survey echoed other studies that have found Canada rising in opinions as an alternative study destination for potential international students amid concerns about visa restrictions, lack of opportunities to stay and work after graduation and experiences of unwelcoming attitudes in the United States and United Kingdom.
The QS report is published annually and generally aims to understand how the political and economic context influences and motivates international students’ decision-making when selecting where to pursue post-secondary studies.
The findings for this year’s survey are based on responses to the survey from 16,650 people interested in pursuing undergraduate, master’s and PhD studies.
U.S. popularity waning?
The report also tackled the question of whether the U.S. can continue its dominance as the top study destination for prospective international students.
Its reputation among prospective international students in the Middle East and Africa has taken a blow, with the report calling its hold on the region “weaker” in 2018.
The results from many individual Middle Eastern countries found Canada, the U.K. and Australia outranking the U.S.
Survey participants in Iran, Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan excluded the U.S. from their list of top countries of choice for post-secondary education, which the study says suggests the U.S. Supreme court’s approval of a travel ban on residents from these countries in December 2017 is having an effect on study destination choices.
Scholarships and financial aid availability
As in previous years, many prospective international students said the main study destination driver is the availability of financial aid for higher education.
This year, 42 per cent of survey participants listed scholarships and/or financial aid as their priority criteria for selecting a country to study.
Many prospective international students reported fear of facing high tuition fees and budget cuts on higher education as deterrents from considering studying in the U.S. and the U.K.
Whether applying to study at a Canadian college or university, international students have access to various scholarship, bursaries and/or awards during their time in Canada.
The amount or type of financial aid a student receives is often determined by merit and varies from one academic institution to another.
The Canadian government also provides a number of scholarships to international students. However, it is important to review the eligibility requirements and deadlines before applying.
As an international student studying in Canada, scholarship opportunities, such as the $500 Scholarship Contest offered in the CanadaVisa Study Hub, may also be available.
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