Canada could overtake UK as study abroad destination
Canada is becoming a study abroad hotspot due to its diverse culture and international education reputation. Source: Karen Emsley/

The United States and the United Kingdom have traditionally reigned as top markets for international study but political changes and visa policies might see Canada climb to second place.

The QS Applicant Survey 2018 found Canada has been increasing in popularity for students from Latin America, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.

study abroad ranking

The US and UK remain top destinations for international students but Canada is fast catching up. Source: QS Applicant Survey 2018

The opportunity to work in Canada after graduation, an internationally friendly culture and sufficient scholarship provision combine to make the country a more attractive place to study than the current political climate in the UK or US, says the study.

Meanwhile, political changes in the UK and US are likely to have knocked international student confidence in their safety and acceptance.

“Britain’s vote to exit the European Union preceded President Donald Trump’s promise to impose a travel ban on people from Muslim-majority nations entering the US,” wrote report author and QS Market Insights manager Dasha Karzunina.

“Thus, for those seeking an international student experience in the two most-popular host markets, uncertainty about unwelcoming attitudes, fees, visa restrictions and post-study work opportunities have arisen worldwide.”

Regardless, the UK and US remain top for international student enrollments because for legacy reasons; the reputation and prestige of their higher learning institutions remain major factors for students when picking a place of study.

“This shows that despite political uncertainties, the prestige of institutions in these countries just about outweighs concerns about visas, opportunities to stay and work, and feeling unwelcome,” the study explains.

The report also found students are concerned with gaining an internationally recognised qualification to ensure they get the most out of their qualification, as well as studying where there is sufficient funding available.

International reputation is an important consideration when choosing a university. Source:

QS spokesperson Jack Moran told The PIE News that Canada’s growth as an international education hotspot is a “multi-causal phenomenon,” aided by lower fees, high quality of student experience, and the global perception of Canada “as a country that remains committed to liberal immigration policy.”

If international students continue to choose Canada for their education, it will likely overtake the UK as an international education hub.

“If Canada can sustain this level of growth, the UK may have to accept a relegation to third place, and our imminent exit from the European Union seems unlikely to improve the situation,” Moran said.

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