Number of international students studying in Canada up 17%
Published on 18/09/18
The total number of international students studying in Canada, at all levels, increased by 17 percent to 494,525 in 2017, according to the latest Research in a Brief report by the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE).
The report, which aimed to illuminate key trends with regards to the level of study, province or territory of study and country of citizenship, found that the greatest proportion (40 percent) of international students came from East Asia (China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Hong Kong).
However, while the number of students from South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc.) grew considerably (up from 16 to 27 percent in 2017), the number of students originating from East Asia decreased, down seven percentage points since 2015.
CBIE’s research acknowledged Canada’s diverse international student population, with 186 nationalities represented in 2017. However, it noted that diversity had declined in recent years, with 67 percent of all international students originating from the top five countries of citizenship: China, India, South Korea, France, and Vietnam.
In 2017, there were 494,525 international students in Canada at all levels of study (based on valid study permits and work permits).
Vietnam (+89) experienced the most dramatic growth in student numbers in 2017, said CBIE, followed by India (+63), Iran (+45), Bangladesh (+41) and Brazil (+28). Country sources new to the top 15 included Bangladesh and Taiwan.
Looking at where international students were studying, 84 percent were enrolled in the three most popular provinces for inbound students: Ontario (48), British Columbia (24) and Quebec (12). However, Ontario and Manitoba showed year-on-year growth, up four and one points respectively, while Quebec declined slightly from 14 to 12 percent.
Fifty-five percent of all international students studying in Canada were hosted in Toronto (up 23 percent), followed by Vancouver (up 17 percent) and Montreal (up 11 percent). In fact, all of the top 15 host census metropolitan areas experienced a year-over-year increase, said CBIE.
Regarding the level of study, 75 percent of international students were enrolled in the post-secondary study (370,710), of which 57 percent were studying at a university, 41 percent at a college and two percent at a CEGEP, a publicly funded pre‑university and technical college in Quebec. The remainder comprised students studying at primary or secondary school level (15 percent) and those pursuing ‘other studies’ (10 percent).
China remains Canada’s top source country for university programmes (74,260). However, India (25,575) replaced France (16,115) as the second most common country of citizenship. Meanwhile, India was the top source country for college-run programmes (86,900), a number which continues to increase at a rapid rate (up 67 percent in 2016), said CBIE.
China was the most common country of citizenship of international students at the secondary level (28,540). However, the number of Vietnamese continued to grow, doubling in size in just one year. South Korea was the top source at primary level (3,265), with Brazil increasing its supply (up 63 percent).
“Due to varied and evolving push and pull factors, international students are choosing Canada as their study destination in unprecedented numbers. Uncertainty and higher cost in traditional top receiving countries as well as lack of access to stable and quality education in their countries of citizenship have compelled a growing number of students to seek alternative study destinations,” said CBIE.
The province of Ontario was the top host for international students.
“Canada continues to be perceived globally as a country of welcome and stability in addition to offering quality and affordable education, making Canada an attractive choice for prospective international students.”
In 2017, Canadian government’s International Education Strategy goal of receiving 450,000 international students by 2022 was surpassed five years early.
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