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Canada is the most popular destination for international students

International students put Canada at the top of the list of preferred study-abroad destinations, poll discovers

  • Student life
  • Study abroad
Seeta Bhardwa's avatar

Seeta Bhardwa

Editor, THE Student
October 20 2017
Air Canada plane taking off from runway


The number of international students wishing to study in Canada has grown since May 2017, new research has found.  

The International Student Admissions Service (ISAS) polled 1,700 students in August and September 2017 and found that 62 per cent of respondents listed Canada as their first choice. In a similar poll carried out in April and May 2017, only 27 per cent of respondents placed Canada as their first choice.

University of Toronto 
Making the most of your university experience in Canada

These were the top five reasons why students named Canada as their first choice in the August/September poll:

1. High academic rankings
2. Plenty of job opportunities after graduation
3. Safe and secure environment
4. Vibrant cultural life
5. Geographical beauty

Other reasons included the nation’s “welcoming nature” and its surging economy. For some students, a key motive was the desire to be with relatives who already lived in the country.

The United States was the second highest choice, with 42 per cent of respondents stating a desire to study there. Europe was the next most popular, at 16 per cent, followed by the UK and Germany.

Respondents were asked a series of questions over the phone when they called the ISAS’ information centre in Ecuador. They were able to answer questions freely, which is why Europe is ranked as the third most desirable destination and then more specific countries such as the UK and Germany are featured. Some students also named more than one country as their preferred destination. 

most popular destinations for international students

Students from Nigeria accounted for nearly a quarter (22 per cent) of the students wishing to study abroad, followed by Indian students, who made up 12 per cent. Ghana (9 per cent), Pakistan (6 per cent) and Bangladesh (3 per cent) were the remaining countries in the top five. 

Read more: Top universities in Canada ranked by employers


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