Why it’s the right time to become an international student in Canada?

study in canada Aug 30, 2019

Why international students are important for Canada?

According to Canadian government statistics, in 2018 alone, international students in Canada spent an estimated $21.6 billion on tuition, accommodation and other expenses in 2018 and thus contributed to Canada’s overall GDP[1], and that’s a sizeable contribution. The international student body supported almost 170,000 jobs for Canada’s middle class in 2016. Such an enormous economic contribution, directly and indirectly, affects the whole country.

As a comparison, educational expenditures by international students have a bigger impact on Canada’s economy than, for example, exports of automotive parts, lumber products or even aircraft.

At the same time, there’s a steady increase of interest by international students towards Canada. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of international students in Canada increased by an amazing 68%. In 2018, a total of 721,205 international students at all levels studied in Canada—the highest number of international students in Canada.[2]

Canada adopted a new International Education Strategy that wants to capitalize on the features that make Canada a global powerhouse in international education. No doubt that Canada has strong schools and programs of study in both English and French; the country can be proud of its peaceful, welcoming and diverse communities; a desirable quality of life; opportunities to work and start careers; and clear pathways for international students to become permanent residents of Canada after their studies.

With a sizeable budget of $147.9 million over five years followed by $8 million per year of ongoing funding, Canada’s new International Education Strategy wants to achieve the following goals, among other goals outlined in the strategy. For the purposes of this article, we will focus only on the following goals:

  • Attract students from a wider diversity of countries to a greater diversity of schools and programs of study in Canada; 
  • Attract select students by targeting countries, programs and schools; strengthen bilateral relations with foreign countries, and ultimately
  • Attract more international students from target countries of Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Morocco, Turkey, France and Ukraine.

So, why is Canada focusing on these countries? Let’s see some numbers!

At the moment, more than 50% of Canada’s international students come from only two countries, India and China (see Figure 1). Moreover, most of the international students are concentrated in large cities in Canada. The goal is to attract students from other countries, as well as to distribute them to different regions of Canada. Doing so would provide sustainable growth of Canada’s international education sector and distribute the benefits from international students more equally across different regions of Canada (see Figure 2).

Figure 1: Canada – Study permit holders with valid permits as of December 31, 2018, by country of citizenship. Source: “Building on Success: Canada’s International Education Strategy (2019-2024).”

Top 10 sources of international students studying in Canada in 2018.

  1. India – 172,625 study permit holders
  2. China, People’s Republic of – 142,985 study permit holders
  3. Korea, Republic of – 24,195 study permit holders
  4. France – 22,745 study permit holders
  5. Vietnam – 20,330 study permit holders
  6. United States of America – 14,620 study permit holders
  7. Brazil – 13,835 study permit holders
  8. Nigeria – 11,290 study permit holders
  9. Iran – 10,885 study permit holders
  10. All other countries – 138,890 study permit holders

Data Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2018

Figure 2: Distribution of international students in Canada. Source: "Building on Success: Canada’s International Education Strategy (2019-2024)"

Where in Canada international students are studying?

  1. Yukon – 260 international students
  2. Northwest Territories – 40 international students
  3. Nunavut – 5 international students
  4. British Columbia – 155,455 international students
  5. Alberta – 35,040 international students
  6. Saskatchewan – 10,525 international students
  7. Manitoba – 21,075 international students
  8. Ontario – 315,915 international students
  9. Quebec – 82,660 international students
  10. New Brunswick – 6,680 international students
  11. Nova Scotia – 17,835 international students
  12. Prince Edward Island – 3,385 international students
  13. Newfoundland – 4,520 international students

Data Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2017

What should you do if you want to become an international student in Canada? 

Perhaps, the most important questions is “What do you want to do after your studies in Canada?” Depending on how you answer this question, your strategy may change. We have developed a detailed “Study in Canada” online workshop where we explain how one should build his/her strategy depending on his/her ultimate goal and personal circumstances. Check it out at www.ImmigrationShop.ca.

But, one thing is certain. Canada wants to develop its provinces by bringing a more diverse student body from the priority countries noted above. That is why, if you want to get permanent residence easily, then choosing the education path that takes you to Canadian provinces with a low number of international students could be a good strategy.

You should not underestimate the importance of a clear strategy that takes into account the immigration programs available for international students after their graduation. Those provinces that want to attract more international students will have more flexible immigration programs and try to keep the students after their graduation in that province as permanent residents.

We have thoroughly discussed this topic and many other valuable insights about studying in Canada in our workshops dedicated specifically to become international students in Canada.  These workshops are developed by Canadian immigration specialists experienced in student immigration.

We have 2 detailed online workshops for future international students in Canada:

  1. Study in Canada Workshop, where you will learn how to get into Canadian universities and colleges with scholarship. You can see the free preview of this workshop here.

There are 5 video instructions and 9 valuable materials to download including sample motivation letters and a list of scholarships for international students.

  1. Study Permit Application Workshop, where you will learn how to prepare strong student visa applications. Many people wrongfully assume that once they get admitted to a Canadian university or college, then they can easily get the Canadain student visa and study permit. So we paid much attention to explain the challenges of getting a student visa and how to overcome it like a pro!

There are 5 modules in this workshop backed by 18 video instructions and 24 downloadable materials in this workshop! The materials include cases studies, a comprehensive list of documents for a student visa, sample documents such as motivation letters, reference letters and letters to apply for scholarships, and sample visa application packages. 

Click here for more details about the Study Permit Application Workshop and get the FREE TRIAL of this workshop.

See you all in Canada!



[1] Source: Global Affairs Canada estimate based on calculations for International student expenditures in 2016 from the report “Economic Impact of Education in Canada” by Roslyn Kunin & Associates.

[2] Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2019


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