Overseas student enrolment in Canada rises by 11 per cent

Universities Canada says country is ‘known worldwide as a nation that values diversity and inclusion’

November 22, 2017
Canada flag
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The number of international students at Canadian universities has risen by 11 per cent in the past year, according to recent surveys.

The increase between autumn 2016 and autumn 2017 brings the total number of full- and part-time overseas university students in the country to 192,000.

The figures come from a series of surveys conducted by the Association of Atlantic Universities, the Bureau de Coopération Interuniversitaire (representing Quebec universities), the Council of Ontario Universities and Universities Canada, of their respective member institutions.

Universities Canada then compiled the data to present a national picture of international student enrolment. In total 96 institutions were surveyed.

Universities Canada said that almost all provinces across the country reported a rise in international student enrolment. British Columbia leads the way with a 15.6 per cent jump.

Several universities in the country have reported double-digit rises in international applications to graduate programmes since the UK’s Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump as US president. 

The Canadian government also has an ambitious plan to increase the number of international students to 450,000 by 2022. 

Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, said that Canada is “known worldwide as a nation that values diversity and inclusion, and our universities are a big part of that”.

“Students around the globe are increasingly choosing the internationally recognised quality of a Canadian university education, and the benefits for Canada are tremendous,” he said.

“These students bring diverse global perspectives and experiences to share with their fellow students, help build and strengthen Canada’s international connections, and contribute economically to their host communities.”

The figures represent a starkly different picture to overseas student enrolment in the US.

The Institute of International Education’s 2017 Open Doors report, released earlier this month, found that the number of international students in the US rose by just 3 per cent between 2015-16 and 2016-17 – the smallest rate of growth since 2009-10.

Meanwhile, the number of new international students enrolling in US universities declined by 7 per cent between autumn 2016 and autumn 2017, according to a snapshot study by the IIE.

However, while international students are increasingly choosing to study in Canada, only 3.1 per cent of Canadian university students per year – or about 11 per cent of undergraduate students over the course of a degree – take part in a study abroad experience.

A recent report from the Study Group on Global Education, an independent group of Canadian policy experts, private-sector leaders and university presidents, calls for the government to set a national target of one-quarter of all Canadian post-secondary students going abroad within 10 years.


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