The country’s low currency, welcoming immigration policies and streamlined visa processing for key markets are finally starting to pay off, according to educators. So much so that many in metropolitan areas are now running into capacity constraints.
“Even if Clinton had won the election, we would still be seeing the same number of students in Canada this year that we are seeing now,” said Mike Walkey, managing director of ELS Canada.
At ELS’s two language schools in Vancouver and Toronto, Walkey expects enrollments to be up 20% on last year, giving a major bump to the group’s growth trajectory.
“Even if Clinton had won the election, we would still be seeing the same number of students in Canada this year that we are seeing now”
“Canada’s done a lot of really good, really smart things recently, particularly with immigration and pathways and work rights, that have helped raise its profile overall,” he said. “Canada has always had a reputation for being welcoming and safe, but I think that’s echoing with people more than ever now.”
Statistics from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada show the country saw an 18% increase in international students to 414,285 as of December 2016 compared to 2015’s year-end data.
The country is on track to reach its 2022 goal of doubling international students to 450,000 “as early as this year”, according to an IRCC representative at the recent BCCIE summer conference in Kelowna.
China continues to be the country’s largest source country but India and Vietnam saw the biggest gains in 2016: a whopping 57% and 55%, respectively.
“Vietnam is an example of good synchronization with the sector and government policy,” said Walkey, referring to the Canada Express Study Program rolled out in Vietnam last year. “Numbers have gone way up, I’ve heard it’s going to become the third biggest nationality, especially for colleges.”
With short courses (two years) and direct routes to employment after graduation, colleges have also absorbed the growth in Indian students. “Our number one source country right now is India, and they’re choosing Canada
Director of international education & development, Beatty said that more than pulling students from the US, the college is attracting students from the UK. “Over the last three or four years we’ve had students that are originally from Nigeria, from Vietnam, even from India, who have gone to the UK, they’ve done a degree or a diploma in the UK, but because there’s no postgraduate work option or long-term immigration option they come to Canada,” he said. Higher education institutions expect to see major growth this year as well.
Canadian schools offer to international students: a high-quality education in a safe and tolerant country that is competitively priced when compared to similar institutions around the world.
The ability to get a work permit after graduation as well as possibly permanent residency is also very appealing. Because there’s no postgraduate work option or long-term immigration option in the UK, they come to Canada
The value of the Canadian dollar is also a major contributing factor to Canada’s desirability. It’s a significant element.