Canada reopen
International student flow into the country may only fully resume in 2023. Source: Dave Chan/AFP

With stricter travel measures now in place, students and stakeholders may be wondering: when will Canada reopen? Well, national non-profit representative Languages Canada believes the international student flow into the country may only fully resume in 2023. This projection is supported by data from market research firm Bonard, reports The PIE News.

Student enrolments have been slashed by close to half compared to 2020, in what president Cath D’Amico calls “a very, very bad year”. “Members are struggling to stay afloat and facing challenges to survive,” she said, referring to the language schools the organisation supports nationwide. Private language programmes have 61% fewer international students compared to last year, causing the closure of two schools so far. Without federal financial subsidies, Bonard estimates that 54% more would be forced to close in the next six months.

A survey of 205 overseas agents and 97 Canadian language programmes suggested that 2022 student enrolment numbers would only reach 55% of the peak in 2019. Extrapolating this data, Bonard’s Patrick Pavlacic agreed that we may only see Canada reopen and recover fully by 2023. He added that the UK was experiencing an even more devastating loss; language student enrolments took a 79% dip this year.

Canada reopen

Students are eager to enter Canada, but full recovery of the international education sector may take a couple of years. Source: Justin Tang/Canadian press/AFP

International students eager to see Canada reopen

Thankfully, the Bonard survey also brought welcome news for Canadian universities. Its survey of agents found that international students are looking forward to seeing Canada reopen post-pandemic. In fact, 31% of agents picked Canada as the top option, while 20% favoured the UK and 14% opted for the US.

Though Canada intends to fully vaccinate its population by the end of September, only 19% have received their first dose. On the bright side, international students may also be eligible for vaccine in certain Canadian provinces — though details are not yet set in stone.

Languages Canada had previously expressed that additional COVID-19 testing and quarantine measures would deter international students from choosing Canada. “The latest requirements imposed by [the] government is taking away the ability to work for the 19,000 Canadians employed in our sector by unnecessarily choking the flow of international students,” executive director Gonzalo Peralta commented then. The organisation said it received plenty of complaints and questions from Canadian language education institutions and students, including whether three COVID-19 tests (pre-departure, on-arrival, and end-of-quarantine) are really necessary.