A growing share of international students in Canada intend to apply for permanent residence in the country after completing their studies, a new survey has found.
The Canadian Bureau for International Education’s International Student Survey found that 60 per cent of respondents planned to stay in Canada long-term and seek residency, a “marked jump” on the 51 per cent stating this intention in 2015.
Views from more than 14,000 students at almost 50 universities and colleges in the country were gathered earlier this year for the survey, which also found that the ability to work in Canada during and after a course was a major driver in them choosing the country.
Three-quarters said that the opportunity for post-study work was an essential (42 per cent) or very important (33 per cent) part of their decision in choosing Canada while two-thirds (62 per cent) said that being able to earn while on a course was either essential or very important.
On specific post-study work plans, 49 per cent said that they would seek permanent employment in Canada and 21 per cent hoped to work in the country for up to three years after studying before returning home.
Almost 30 per cent of the survey respondents – half of whom were from East and South Asia – said that they had also applied to study in other countries before settling on Canada, with about half of those (54 per cent) applying to the US, 22 per cent the UK and 15 per cent Australia.
Canada’s position as a popular destination for international students has strengthened in recent years, a trend attributed in part to political developments in the US and UK making those countries less attractive. Data published alongside the survey results from Project Atlas, which monitors international student mobility, show that Canada overtook France and Australia for overseas student numbers in 2017.
According to the CBIE survey, the three top reasons that students gave for choosing to study in Canada remain the same: the quality of the education system (82 per cent said that this was an essential or very important factor), Canada’s reputation as a tolerant, non-discriminatory society (79 per cent) and its reputation as a safe country (78 per cent).
Abut 93 per cent of students said that they were satisfied with their experience studying in Canada and 96 per cent said they would either definitely or probably recommend it to others as a place to study.
However, the survey also revealed that international students in Canada had particular concerns about the ability to cover their accommodation costs and find work while studying.
Almost 80 per cent said that they felt somewhat or very concerned about paying for a place to stay, a proportion that reached 84 per cent for those in Canada’s housing market hotspots such as Vancouver and Toronto.
And of those students without part-time jobs, 56 per cent said that they were struggling to find work, with the top challenges identified as not having enough work experience (52 per cent) and not finding appropriate jobs (37 per cent). Some also said that they felt there was a sense of employer discrimination against work experience gained abroad.
“Canadian employers disregard international work experience. They want references and Canadian work experience,” said one student responding to the survey.