Canada’s Growing International Student Boom

It is easy to sit here and say that last November’s election and current US international demeanor and policies are the cause of Canada’s growing international student boom. To be fair, that is probably true to some extent.  It is clearly helping with the sudden spike in interest in Canada.  However, let’s not discount the hard work that is fueling that growth.  In fact, the international student enrollment numbers have been steadily rising since around 2008.  Only now are they seeing a spike in those numbers.

Increase in International Students in Canada

According to BBC, The University of Toronto has seen a 20% increase in total international student enrollments.  They also saw a 57% spike in applications from countries like India.  Other schools like McMaster University in Ontario are seeing a 33% increase in fall enrollments.  Wilfrid Laurier University, also in Ontario, are  seeing a 32% increase over last year.  All of these schools are seeing a spike due to Canada’s growing international student boom.

Besides November’s election and the current US international demeanor here are other factors contributing to Canada’s growing international student boom:

  • A low cost of living – From EduCanada’s website, “the cost of living and tuition fees for international students are generally lower than in other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.”
  • It maintains a safe image and non discriminatory society – “respect for human rights, equality, and a stable and peaceful society.”
  • The ability to work while in school and after graduation.
  • Easier to immigrate to Canada after studying and working there.

These are almost the opposite of the US market where cost can certainly be a concern especially in  larger cities.  In addition students safety is also a real concern for parents.  Then if you add on top of that new policies and rhetoric about immigration it creates the perfect storm to Canada’s benefit.  Canada also has lax work rules for international students.  This allows international students to start work out of the gate.  This is unlike the US where most international students must wait a year until they are eligible  to work.  Canada also makes it much easier for international students that earn a degree and are employable an easier path to permanent  residence.

Canada has steadily grown their international student population since 2008.  The growth comes from a mix of individual schools marketing themselves as well as associations like EduCanada who have a focus on positioning Canada as an option for international education.  They also have a consistent marketing message. Another such group, Global Affairs Canada, states in their International Education Strategy section that, “We can make Canada a world leader in international education and ensure our future prosperity.”

Clearly Canada’s growing international student boom comes at the expense of US and other country’s policies.  Canadian schools have done a great job positioning themselves, marketing themselves and capitalizing on our politics to set themselves up for the growth they are seeing.  Congrats to our neighbors to the north.  Well played, Canada. Well Played.

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