In 2015, Canada increased the number of study permits issued to international students by 5.4 percent, according to official government data.

In a report compiled by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), it was revealed that 125,783 new study permits were granted to international students last year.

The Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration also showed that the number of foreign students applying for study permits in the same year had increased by 6.4 percent from the previous year to 187,968.

Based on the figures, international students are a boon to Canada’s economy, spending more than CA$11.4 billion annually, far more than the CA$8 billion the department had predicted in the 2014 report.

“International students bring with them new ideas and cultures that enrich the learning environment within Canadian educational institutions,” said the report.

The department minister, John McCallum, said in the report that temporary immigration represents a “significant contribution” to the country’s economy and labour market.

“Canada has always been a popular destination for students, workers, and visitors from around the world, and this popularity is growing at a remarkable rate,” he said.

However, the report noted that the overall growth in the number of study permits issued and student applications has slowed down slightly over the last couple of years.

Last year, 271,845 people were granted permanent resident status, with 5,829 of them having transitioned from study permits, said the report.

Studying at a Canadian higher institution would also benefit those looking to settle in the country: 22 percent of foreigners applying through Express Entry (a route to permanent residence in Canada) had Canadian study experience.

Speaking to The PIE News, a spokesperson from the IRCC said: “Former international students are also well-placed for success within Express Entry, given the particular attributes of international students including their education, possible Canadian work experience, strong official language skills, and youth.”

She added that the department was currently reviewing the Express Entry program to see how it could be further improved for prospective immigrants, particularly international students.

According to a recent survey of education agents, Canada is the “most attractive” study destination for international students at the moment, garnering 69 percent of the vote.

Image via Shutterstock

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