Canada’s popularity rising as study abroad destination

April 5, 2018

By Asian Pacific Post |

A new survey of international students has revealed Canada is fast catching the U.S. and U.K. among the world’s most popular destinations for young people looking to study abroad.

The 2018 edition of the QS Applicant Survey shows Canada could be about to overtake the U.K. and become the second most popular study destination behind the U.S.

The top three fastest-growing countries of origin from 2016-2017 were: Vietnam (+89%); India (+63%) and Iran (+45%).

China remains the top sending country overall representing 28% of inbound students followed by India having almost doubled with 25% and South Korea a distant third with 5%.

The number of Filipino students jumped by 70% to reach 3,350 in 2016. This establishes the Philippines as the 16th-largest sender for Canada and reflects both the growing strength of the country’s economy as well as the very large Filipino community in Canada. Global Affairs Canada reported separately that there are roughly 800,000 Filipinos living in Canada currently.

Experts see the change as a reaction to political shifts in both countries. While the U.S. is pursuing anti-immigrant policies under Donald Trump, the U.K. has voted to leave the European Union, with a central issue being freedom of movement.

Meanwhile, Canada is focused on increasing immigration, with encouraging international graduates to stay and build their careers here a central policy of the federal Liberal government.

The QS Application Survey says that although Canada remains third overall, it beats both the U.S. and the U.K. in attracting students from specific regions.

“Canada remains the third-most-popular study destination, and in many cases, outperforms the UK and the US when target destinations are broken down by country, especially in the Middle East region,” the report says.

U.S. Government data shows a sharp drop of 17 percent in the number of study permits issued to students from overseas in the year to September 30, 2017.

At the same time, Canadian universities have seen nearly an 11 percent increase in their international student numbers, suggesting Canada is attracting at least some of those put off the U.S. by the Trump administration.

“This number representing all levels of Canadian education clearly demonstrates the continuing attractiveness of Canada as a study destination,’ said Karen McBride, President, and CEO of the Canadian Bureau of International Education.

As of December 31, 2017, there were 495,525 international students in Canada.

This number from Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is an increase of 20% over 2016 and is particularly significant in that it surpasses Canada’s International Education Strategy goal of 450,000 international students in Canada by 2022, five years ahead of schedule.

“Our research shows that international students choose Canada because of the quality of the Canadian education system and our reputation as a safe and tolerant country,” said McBride.

“This reputation is especially attractive now, given a changing global climate, and 95% of international students tell us they would recommend Canada to family and friends. Moreover, the strong focus of our member institutions across the country on effectively supporting international students is a hallmark of Canada’s approach, one that we continually strive to improve. “

The total number of post-secondary students in Canada is 370,975, a 20% jump over December 31, 2016 (308,745). Canada now holds the fourth highest spot as receiver of post-secondary international students after the US, UK, and China, surpassing Australia and France.

The report – QS Applicant Survey 2018: What drives an international student today? – released annually by global international education think tank Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), examines the destination preferences and study motivations of more than 16,000 prospective international students across the world.

Among prospective international students from the Asia-Pacific region, the US has a weaker hold and the UK drops from second to fourth, and now lags behind Australia (second) and Canada (third).

Among international applicants from Africa and the Middle East, the UK is replaced in the second spot by Canada.

Among Eastern European international applicants, Canada has risen from fifth to fourth, with the UK replaced in first place by the US for the first time since QS began the survey.

Among Western European respondents, Canada replaces the Netherlands as the fifth-most-preferred destination, though the proximity of France and Germany still makes these countries preferable to Canada among students in this region.

The report’s author and QS Market Insights Manager, Dasha Karzunina, said: “With top student destinations remaining relatively stable over the last few years, it is interesting to see student preferences change this year, particularly in the context of the recent geopolitical events in the US and the UK. “

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