The total number of students studying outside their home country has more than doubled since 2001. According to UNIESCO data, in 2017 more than 4.6 million students were studying internationally. With the increased number of international students, countries around the world are creating programs to specifically attract these students and are in direct competition to attract the best and brightest.
For example Germany’s government announced plans in 2013 to increase its number of international students to 350,000 by 2020. With its recruitment plans it was able to reach this goal by the 2016-2017 academic year. Similarly Australia released a strategy in 2016 for international education and by October 2017, the country increased enrollment by international students by 15% over the previous year and had 350,000 international higher education students. Even China, which is the source of most international students, is now among one of the top host countries and it has announced ambitious plans to attract even more international students.
Canada too has hopes to attract 450,000 international students by 2022 and it is very close to achieving this goal as over 300,000 international students chose Canada for the 2017-2018 academic year.
So how are international students choosing where to study and how has Canada been such an attractive option for international students?
Given the high calibre of Canada’s universities and the wide range of college programs and diplomas it comes as no surprise that Canada is a top choice for international students. While University of Toronto, Waterloo and McGill are internationally renowned, studying at any of Canada’s universities and colleges is regarded with great respect.
In addition to the great reputation of Canadian universities and colleges, these institutions have created recruitment strategies to specifically increase awareness about their programs and opportunities to attract top talent. These efforts are paying off as more and more students are applying to study at Canadian colleges and universities across Canada.
Once a student has chosen Canada and obtained an acceptance, he or she must have a study permit to be able to study in Canada. The government has also stepped up its efforts to process the study permit applications for international students more quickly and with more reliability. The increased reliability of the visa process makes Canada a safer choice for international students.
Finally, one of the reasons why international students are attracted to Canada is because of the government of Canada’s efforts in creating opportunities and pathways to permanent residence and citizenship for international students. Over the last decade, Canada has adopted immigration programs to retain international students upon the completion of their studies.
Students can work while they study and upon completing recognized degrees or diplomas in Canada they qualify for a post-graduate work permit allowing them to work in Canada for up to 3 years. In November 2016, the Express Entry system was changed to introduce points for international students who complete a recognized degree or diploma in Canada, making it easier for international students to become permanent residents. The provinces are also trying to retain international students and offer unique provincial nominee programs for international graduates in their province.
Over the next few weeks I will be writing more about studying in Canada as an international student. If you have any specific issues you would like to see covered please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zeynab Ziaie is a graduate of the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto and a lawyer licensed to practice in Ontario and New York. Her legal practice focuses on immigration and business law. She often works with clients to find suitable solutions in complex immigration and citizenship cases and represents clients at all levels of court.