- Canada holds a 16.1% share of the international student market preference, surpassing the United States and the United Kingdom.
- With 40% of international students hoping for permanent residency after their studies, Canada’s flexible immigration process allows for a smooth transition from student to permanent resident.
- Recent regulatory improvements, such as lifting restrictions on off-campus employment and extending post-graduate work permits, have improved students’ prospects for finding employment in Canada.
As an international student, selecting the perfect study destination is an essential and transformative decision. In recent years, there has been a seismic shift in global preferences, with Canada emerging as the frontrunner among the top study-abroad destinations.
According to the Keystone Education Group’s latest report titled “State of Student Recruitment for 2023,” Canada’s popularity as a study-abroad destination among international students has significantly increased in the past year.
Canada as a thriving haven for international students
Amid the dynamic landscape of international education, the numbers speak for themselves. The report highlighted that Canada now leads, holding an impressive 16.1% share of international student market preference. This remarkable figure places the country ahead of the competition, even surpassing previous top tiers such as the United States (14.8%) and the United Kingdom (14.4%). Surprisingly, Canada’s popularity surged by a staggering 29% over the previous year, unseating the UK as the preferred study destination.
Moreover, the report also sheds light on the performance of other prominent countries. With an 8% rise in acceptance since 2022, the United States has maintained its position as a leading country. Its consistent growth strengthens its reputation for offering top-notch instruction and a wide range of intriguing academic options.
However, the UK had a surprising 20% decrease in popularity starting in 2022, despite being long praised for its prestigious colleges and scholarly background. This decrease prompts important inquiries concerning the elements influencing the change in students’ preferences. Students looked at alternative options as a result of the impact of some ongoing potential policy changes.
Why students are choosing the Great White North
More than 550,000 students from 184 countries were enthusiastically welcomed to Canadian universities and colleges in 2022, according to recent data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This increase in international enrollment highlights a pattern that has seen Canada become a well-known study destination.
One key benefit is Canada’s favorable immigration laws, which make the transition from student to permanent resident incredibly straightforward. A significant 40% of international students studying in Canada aim to pursue permanent residency after their studies, according to a 2021 survey by the Canadian Bureau for International Education.
In addition, the burden of high living costs and tuition fees can have a serious impact on a student’s choice of where to pursue higher education. Canada has a clear advantage in this area. According to a 2022 QS study, affordability plays a critical role in students’ decisions to attend a certain university, and Canada stands out as an example of financial viability.
Furthermore, excellence in education is now associated with Canadian institutions of higher learning. Three Canadian universities—McGill University, the University of Toronto, and the University of British Columbia—are among the top 50 universities in the world according to the 2023 QS World University Ranking.
When moving to a new country, students must take safety into account. Canada was the only American nation to place in the top 20, according to the United States News & World Report, and it was ranked as the seventh-safest nation in the world. In addition to having a solid social safety net and a stable political system, Canada boasts a low crime rate, which contributes to it being a secure and friendly country for students to live and study in.
The last important factor is employability. The government recently relaxed the 20-hour per week cap on off-campus work for international students to solve labor shortages, thus improving employability chances. Additionally, recent legislative changes have made it possible for graduates with expiring post-graduate work permits to petition for an 18-month extension, further increasing International students’ interest.
Canada’s rise as a premier study destination is no accident. The nation’s all-encompassing approach to immigration, accessibility, academic excellence, inclusivity, safety, and employment opportunities fosters both education and personal development.
In 2022, one of the biggest sending markets, India, witnessed a 49% growth in enrollment in Canada. Given Canada’s many benefits as a study destination, this comes as no surprise.
As I see it, Canada is poised to continue its ascent as a premier study destination. The country offers students a doorway to a world of possibilities, and its comprehensive approach to education and immigration makes it an attractive choice for students from all over the world. (SUNEETHA QURESHI)
Suneetha has worked for 15 years in the international education sector and 25 years overall for her work for other industries. As president of MSM, she fortifies its business development outreach globally, particularly in the face of MSM’s foray into edtech-based recruitment via MSM Unify. She preserves the premium, value-adding services provided to each MSM partner institute, including dedicated teams on the ground, agent management, lead generation and inquiry management, application prescreening, 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.
- 2023. State of Student Recruitment 2023. Keystone Education Group. Retrieved from https://www.keg.com/state-of-student-recruitment/2023/resources?submissionGuid=ee349ec8-73a4-4c10-906d-1e2a4ea046c3&fbclid=IwAR1xCvDLKboTHMOQg__7LSjZwOVQqCB7XJFo-14Lvupngc4aW79WNMvjZEc
- 2023. Why is Canada Growing in Popularity as a Study Destination?. Keystone Education Group. Retrieved from https://www.keg.com/news/why-is-canada-growing-in-popularity-as-a-study-destination
- 2023. International Students Flock To Canadian Schools As Study Permits Boom To Over 550,000. Canada Immigration News. Retrieved from https://www.cimmigrationnews.com/international-students-flock-to-canadian-schools-as-study-permits-boom-to-over-550000/
- 2022. Top 5 International Student Markets for Canada in 2022. M Square Media. Retrieved from https://msquaremedia.com/research/top-5-international-student-markets-for-canada-in-2022/