Canada has consistently ranked in surveys as one of the most popular study destinations for international students. Highly regarded for its welcoming culture and immigration-friendly policies, the country easily became a melting pot for students eyeing top-quality education and the opportunities for migration it presents.
Consistently a global favorite, Canada is especially popular with international students from France. But what are the reasons for the country’s appeal to young French students? In this article, I delve into the top five reasons why students from a country known for its fine wine and sophisticated cuisine are attracted to Canada.
- France is the 4th top source of international students for Canada
- Canada is the top destination for French students in 2018 with over 17,000 students enrolled.
- Language use is the primary reason why students from France are drawn to Canada as 95% of the population speaks French, especially in Francophone communities
- Affordable tuition fees in Canadian learning institutions are also highly regarded by French students
- Ultimately, the availability of work and immigration opportunities is what attracts French students the most to study and eventually live in the country.
Based on the 2019 Project Atlas report, France is the 6th top study destination of international students across the globe. Interestingly, the country is also the fourth top source of international students of Canada. And the number of study permits issued to French nationals has been consistently increasing before the pandemic.
According to the UNESCO Global Flow of Tertiary-Level Students, Canada is the top destination for French students with over 17,000 students enrolled in Canadian institutions in 2018. French students also go to Belgium, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, and Spain. Interestingly, the United States landed only at the 7th spot.
Now that we’ve established the overwhelming popularity of Canada among young French students, let us now take up the primary reasons why students from France prefer to go there:
1. Canada Uses the French Language
It is infinitely convenient to study in a country that speaks one’s language. French nationals studying in Canada appreciate the fact that over 95% of the population in the country speaks French either as their first or second language. Because of this, Canada is the top destination for high-quality francophone or bilingual (English and French) education.
In entire Canada, the Francophone education system consists of:
- Over 600 schools outside Quebec and more than 2400 in Quebec
- More than 120 French-speaking community colleges
- Around 20 francophone or bilingual universities
- Over 100 French-speaking research centers
French students enjoy the flexibility of bilingualism that can be found both within academic life and everyday living, especially in Quebec. Students in Quebec can submit their work and write in exams in English or French. Outside school, both official languages are spoken in most areas of the city.
2. High-caliber Education
The more flexible and practical program structures found in Canadian universities often motivate French students to leave home and journey across the Atlantic to study. Canadian college and university diplomas are also recognized around the world and the Canadian educational system encourages cross-disciplinary studies and the development of transferable skills.
Moreover, many French students are drawn to study in Canada as they can get a high-quality education accompanied by overseas experience at an affordable cost.
3. Less Expensive Tuition Rates
Studying in Canada offers many advantages for international students, with specific incentives geared toward French students. Quebec and France signed a bilateral agreement in 1978 – allowing French citizens to benefit from the Quebec tuition rate instead of the international student tuition rate. This, in effect, saves French students thousands of dollars each year.
Moreover, the high quality of education offered by Canadian universities attracts French students who view Canada as a less expensive yet comparable alternative to the United States.
4. Immigration Programs
International students who wish to stay in Canada after the completion of their studies have many options available to them which are not available to those who have completed their education outside the country. French-speaking students have an additional advantage as Citizenship and Immigration Canada has recently increased the language proficiency standards required of all Canadian immigration applicants, making any foreign national with high proficiency in either official language a strong candidate.
It is also relatively easier for French students to integrate into society once they immigrate to Canada due to many francophone communities where they can use their native language in everyday interactions.
5. Work Opportunities
The country has an unemployment rate of only 7%. The stability of the economy in Canada has led to the creation of a huge amount of jobs, many of which cannot be properly filled by the relatively small population of Canada.
More than this, there are plenty of work opportunities for French-speaking citizens in Canada. The country’s economic strength has served as encouragement for immigration and French citizens have often grabbed this opportunity.
The Quebec-France Labor Mobility Agreement is also significant in encouraging French citizens to study and work in Canada. This agreement was designed to help individuals from both France and Quebec to seek employment and be fast-tracked into the labor market. Both governments agreed to accept the equivalent of each other’s degrees and training certificates for certain occupations.
With the many benefits that completing studies at Canadian institutions bring, especially in the province of Quebec, French students are choosing to follow their international education dreams in a land where their language is spoken and where they know they have a bright future. (SUNEETHA QURESHI)
Suneetha has more than 10 years of experience in the international education sector. As president of MSM GMO, she fortifies its business development outreach globally, particularly in the face of MSM’s foray in edtech-based recruitment via MSM Unify. She preserves the premium, value-adding services provided to each GMO partner institution, including dedicated teams on the ground, agent management, lead generation and inquiry management, application pre-screening, and student and parent support through pioneering pre-departure briefing sessions.
She has an impeccable track record of successfully launching the representative offices in Asia and Africa of many North American and European higher education institutions. Her key strengths include hiring, training, and developing teams as evidenced by the successful results of the dedicated in-country college and university client teams.
Suneetha also has taken the lead in developing several initiatives at MSM, including building robust standard operating procedures, the Rise ‘n Shine team engagement platform, and the organization’s data analytics and audit segments.
2019 Project Atlas Infographics. (n.d.). Retrieved June 18, 2021, from https://www.iie.org/Research-and-Insights/Project-Atlas/Explore-Data/Infographics/2019-Project-Atlas-Infographics
The Canadian Advantage- Why So Many French Students Opt For Canada. FWCanada. (2016, September 21). https://www.canadianimmigration.net/news-articles/25072012-canadian-advantage-why-so-many-french-students-opt-canada/
UNESCO IUS. (n.d.). Global Flow of Tertiary-Level Students. Retrieved June 18, 2021, from http://uis.unesco.org/en/uis-student-flow