Canada an increasingly desired destination for international business students

June 8, 2017

By Jennifer Lewington, Globe and Mail |

Uganda-born Helen Kobusinge knew she wanted to study abroad for her MBA, with Canada one of four possible destinations.

Then an accountant with Deloitte in Kampala, Ms. Kobusinge chose Canada in 2015 partly for its immigration policies that, unlike Britain and the United States, offer a postgraduation work permit of up to three years for eligible candidates.

“This opportunity I found was much better in Canada than other countries,” says Ms. Kobusinge, who graduated this spring from Smith School of Business at Queen’s University and now works as a senior accountant for KPMG in Kingston.

Ms. Kobusinge is one of a growing number of international students – including a small but growing contingent from Africa – who are pushing Canada up the charts as a preferred study destination.

New data on potential applicants to global business schools, released recently by the U.S.-based Graduate Management Admission Council, show that between 2009 and 2016 Canada muscled its way onto a top-five list of international study destinations. The United States and Britain typically are preferred choices, but last year Canada moved into second place (from fifth in 2009) as a destination for prospective MBA students from Africa.

Over the same period, Canada climbed into third spot (from fifth in 2009) for students from Central and South Asia, and stood fifth last year as a preferred location for prospective students from the United States and the Middle East.

Some credit Canada’s favourable profile to anti-immigrant policies in the United States and Britain that impose study and postgraduation restrictions on foreign students. But researchers caution it is too early to assess the full impact of inward-looking practices reshaping overseas study choices.

Canada stands out to potential candidates, says GMAC director of research Gregg Schoenfeld, for the relative ease in securing a work permit after graduation. As well, Canada is seen as a relatively safe and secure destination.

“It seems to be government policies affecting student mobility toward Canada,” he says, with an immigrant-friendly outlook providing Canadian schools with a useful recruitment tool. “Schools may want to highlight government policies about work visas, work permits and the relative ease of getting a student visa.”

With a three-year work permit, for example, graduates such as Ms. Kobusinge have time to apply (as she is doing) for permanent residency in Canada.

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