CANADA TAKES STOCK
A combination of push and pull
The unprecedented growth is a combination of push and
pull factors, stakeholders say. Paul Davidson, president at
Universities Canada, says that Canadian higher education in-stitutions
are keeping a close watch on developments in the
UK and US. Brexit potentially has the potential to impact on
student and faculty flows, as well as research collaboration.
“We’re also looking at the impact of the election year
in the United States and what kind of messaging is sent to
international students as a result of that process,” he notes,
adding that Canada has seen growth in student numbers
from countries like Iran which have been impacted by the
US travel ban.
“Canada has seen
growth in numbers
from countries like
Iran which have been
impacted by the US
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Sonja Knutson, director of the Internationalization Office
at Memorial University of Newfoundland, agrees that a per-ceived
chill on international student numbers in the US and
UK has contributed to Canada’s rise as a top destination,
“but that’s us being humble too. More than that, Canada has
a really positive international image”.
Diversity goals and growth challenges
A 2018 CBIE survey found that the top three reasons
international students choose Canada are the quality of its
education system, its reputation as a tolerant and non-discri-minatory
society, and its perception as a safe destination.
But its post-study work rights have a huge impact too.
International students are eligible for a post-graduation work
permit for up to three years and there are also multiple pat-hways
to permanent residency. CBIE’s same survey found
that 60 per cent of international students plan to apply for
permanent residence in Canada.
The Student Direct Stream is an expedited study permit
processing program that allows residents of China, India,
Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, and Vietnam to fast
track their applications for study permits. “These countries
mirror the countries that send the highest number of stu-dents
or who have the greatest kind of potential in terms of
growth,” Bezo says.
In 2019, India leapfrogged China to become the number
one sending country of international students to Canada,
with 172,625 study permit holders in the country. More
than half of international students in Canada come from
these two countries combined. The other top countries of
origin for international students in Canada are South Korea,
France, Vietnam and the US.
Much of the growth from India has been concentrated in
the college sector, while Chinese dominance is common at
universities. But with strong demand from many markets (Ni-geria
has just benefited from a fast-track pilot visa), it is not
uncommon to find institutions are now focused on diversity
instead of growth.
“Our passion and intention has been on diversifying our
campus,” relates Christie Johnson, manager of international
recruitment and partnerships at Wilfred Laurier University in
Ontario, citing international student growth over five years
from four to seven per cent of the total student body, “so
that has been very calculated”.
Johnson says the university’s no. 1 ranking for student sa-tisfaction
according to a Maclean’s survey of 18,000 people
Chinese and Indian students
account for more than half of all