Increasingly blurred geographical boundaries, growing incomes and rising ambitions, and international education have been the hallmarks of the past decade. Canada has been one of the top beneficiaries of the surge in demand for studying abroad. By any standards, 2019 was a watershed year in Canadian international education. Let’s review some of the key moments from last year:
Over 700,000 International Students in Canada
The previous Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen stated that over 721,000 international students were studying in Canada (2018 stats). This figure is significant given that Canada is on its way to almost double the number of international students from the previous target of 450,000 students by 2022.
International education supports over 170,000 jobs in the sector
According to Global Affairs Canada, in 2016 international education supported almost 170,000 jobs in the education sector. Since then, we expect this figure to have climbed even further. International students also contribute to the knowledge economy by generating new ideas, strengthening innovation and crafting meaningful interpersonal relationships.
International education contributed over $21.6 billion to the Canadian economy
International students contributed nearly C $21.6 billion dollars to the economy through tuition, accommodation and other expenses in 2018. Educational expenditures by international students have a greater impact on Canada’s economy than exports of auto parts, lumber or aircraft.
Five-year International Education Strategy announced
- In August 2019, Canada announced a 5-year strategic plan for international education. Main highlights include:
- Expanding the Student Direct Stream – Canada has vowed to expand the SDS to more countries. The government has not announced which countries will be targeted, but has dedicated $1 million to the expansion.
- Modernize immigration forms and processes – Canada will spend about $18 million over 5 years and $1.2 million a year thereafter.
- Attract students from more countries to a greater number of schools and programs across Canada. A targeted digital marketing strategy will be implemented, costing about $24.1 million over 5 years and $5.4 million a year thereafter.
Student Direct Stream expanded to include Pakistan
The SDS expanded to include Pakistan as the fifth country to join China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam. There has been a heightened interest from Pakistani students to pursue higher education in Canada.
Student Direct Stream expanded to include the French-speaking countries of Morocco and Senegal
Keeping in line with IRCC’s vision of increasing Francophone immigration to 4.4% of immigrants outside Quebec by 2023, the SDS was expanded to include Morocco and Senegal. This also brings Africa into focus which is touted to be the next driver of student immigration in the coming years.
IRCC extended the PGWP application period from 90 to 180 days
International students hoping to remain in Canada on a Post-Graduation Work Permit now have six months to apply once they obtain their notice of graduation and are no longer required to have a valid study permit. The extension doubles the amount of time recent graduates have to apply for a PGWP once their school issues their final marks.
To conclude, 2019 had many welcome developments for Canadian international education. However, Canada may face a challenge from the UK where students are now allowed to remain and get work experience after completing their studies. In addition, the push for diversity among international students will challenge DLIs’ recruitment efforts. Nevertheless, we look forward to 2020 with optimism.