Canada’s international student population has been growing steadily over the past decade, and it is expected to continue to do so in the coming years. According to available data, in 2022, Canada saw a 31% increase in international students compared to the previous year and a 43% growth in international student population over the past five years1. These figures are significant and have a positive effect on the Canadian economy.
Canada added more than 1 million international students in 2023.
- Record-Breaking Enrollment: In 2023, Canada’s international student population reached an all-time high, with more than 1 million students enrolling in programs lasting six months or longer.
- Predominantly Higher Education: A significant majority of these students were pursuing their studies at colleges and universities across the country.
- Impressive Growth: The international student population saw a 27% year-over-year increase, building on the substantial 30% growth observed in 2022.
- Active Study Permits: The number of students with active study permits climbed to 1,028,850 in 2023, marking a 27% rise from the previous year, as per the latest figures from Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Canada (IRCC).
- Exceeding Expectations: The 2023 figures surpassed the government’s projections by 8%, indicating a higher-than-anticipated interest in Canadian education.
- Global Standing: With these numbers, Canada is hosting nearly as many international students as the United States, despite the vast difference in population size between the two countries.
Here are enrolments for 2023 broken down by province:
- Ontario: 526,015
- British Columbia: 202,565
- Quebec: 117,925
- Alberta: 63,425
- Manitoba: 28,190
- Nova Scotia: 26,610
- Saskatchewan: 18,695
- New Brunswick: 16,030
- Newfoundland and Labrador: 7,430
- PEI: 5,355
The country has been consistently attracting students from all around the world, and its effort to welcome more has been evident in its policies and support systems. The Canadian government has been working to attract and retain international students, and has taken steps to make studying in Canada more accessible and affordable for students from all backgrounds.
One reason that international students are drawn to Canada is its high-quality education system. Canadian universities and colleges offer a wide range of programs that are designed to be globally competitive. Students can choose from various disciplines, including business, engineering, science, medicine, and more. Additionally, many educational institutions have partnerships with other universities and industry stakeholders globally, which provides students with opportunities for academic and research collaborations on a global scale.
Moreover, Canadian institutions rank well on international university rankings. According to the QS World University Rankings 2022, seven of Canada’s universities are included in the top 200 in the world2. The ranking criteria include academic reputation, employer reputation, international research, and faculty-student ratio, among others. The presence of globally recognized institutions confirms Canada’s status as a hub of academic excellence.
Another reason that international students are attracted to Canada is the diverse and tolerant culture of the country. Canada is known for its inclusive and multi-cultural society, where all races, identities, and backgrounds are welcome to share and celebrate their cultural heritage. International students who study in Canada can experience this culture firsthand and immerse themselves in a new environment and community. There are many arrangements made by the government and educational institutions to provide resources such as language support, spiritual services, cultural events, and more, showing commitment towards international students’ well-being.
Moreover, students in Canada can take advantage of many opportunities for employment. Canada offers many part-time and full-time job opportunities both on-campus and off-campus to students. A study permit holder can work part-time (up to 20 hours a week) during regular academic sessions and full-time during breaks (such as summer or winter holidays). The work-and-study program offered by the Canadian government is designed to help students gain work experience and develop their skills, providing an opportunity for students to practice what they’ve learned in their academics on a tangible level.
When it comes to the cost of studying in Canada, it is considered affordable compared to other study destinations. The government has taken steps to make it more accessible for students, especially those who come from underprivileged backgrounds. Institutions offer a broad range of scholarships, bursaries, and grants to students based on merit or need. Additionally, the Canadian government has set plans in motion to offer a pathway to permanent residency to eligible graduates, opening up further opportunities to international students to settle in Canada on a long-term basis.
However, despite Canada’s efforts to attract and retain international students, there remain some challenges that students might face. Enrolling in a new educational institution and adapting to a new environment can be overwhelming for international students. Culture shock, language barriers, adjusting to a new climate, understanding and adapting to different academic and cultural expectations, and financial stress are examples of challenges that can come with studying in another country.
To mitigate these challenges, the Canadian government and educational institutions offer many resources such as student associations, counseling services, mentorship programs, language and cultural training, academic support, and more, ensuring the well-being and success of their international students.
Canada’s international student population is expected to grow significantly in 2023 as the Canadian government continues to provide support and access to quality education to students from all over the world. The country’s multicultural and inclusive culture, along with diverse employment opportunities and affordable education, make Canada an attractive destination for international students. While there may be some challenges that students face when studying abroad, the Canadian government and educational institutions have taken measures to support international students, providing resources for them to overcome the obstacles they may encounter. As a result, Canada’s international student population is expected to thrive for years to come.
- Source: CBIE | Global Leader in International Education ↩
- Source: QS World University Rankings 2022 ↩