is Canada safe
A total of 69% of international students are still eager to study abroad in Canada despite COVID-19. Source: DAVE CHAN/AFP

Is Canada safe? According to 67,000 international students who arrived on its shores between January and April 2020, the answer is yes.

Despite a pandemic on hand, scores of international students are still keen to study abroad in Canada, according to data by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), via CIC News

In 2019, Canada had over 640,000 international students, a tripling of its numbers in the past decade.  

India takes the crown as the top source country, followed by China and South Korea. So far in 2020, the top 15 source countries are:

  1. India
  2. China
  3. South Korea
  4. Vietnam
  5. Brazil
  6. Iran
  7. France
  8. Nigeria
  9. Colombia
  10. Japan
  11. Mexico
  12. Philippines
  13. Bangladesh
  14. Morocco
  15. US

In comparison, the US are seeing fewer international students arrive, a decline observed even before the pandemic.

While the number of international students who newly enrolled in US colleges and universities during the 2015/16 school year stood at more than 300,000, that number had fallen by about 10% to less than 270,000 in the year after, according to David L. Di Maria, Associate Vice Provost for International Education, University of Maryland, Baltimore County via The Conversation.

This trend will likely accelerate in the fall of 2020 due to COVID-19. 

Still a popular study abroad destination

is Canada safe

Canada is known for its quality education and multicultural society. Source: DANIEL SLIM/AFP

Despite a drop in international student intake in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period last year, international students are still eager to study abroad in Canada despite COVID-19.

According to a survey by IDP Connect, an international education specialist, 69% of international students with current offers from universities said they expect to start their studies as planned. Only 5% said they don’t expect to commence their studies.

The research examined nearly 6,900 international student applicants on their attitudes and motivations for studying in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US in light of COVID-19. 

Most of the participants were from India, China, and Bangladesh. 

Commenting on the results, IDP Education CEO Andrew Barkla said, “Given the unprecedented challenges the global community is facing, it is encouraging to know the vast majority of students surveyed state their perception of their study destination had not changed and they were holding on to their international education plans.”

Barkla acknowledges there are several barriers that will impact the ability of universities to meet this demand, such as ongoing travel restrictions and social distancing measures. 

Meanwhile, IDP Connect CEO Simon Emmett said the research showed there was a small window where applicants want to hold on to their global study goals, following which, their interest appears to wane.

“Thirty-one percent of respondents stated they would be willing to start their course online and move to face-to-face learning at a later date, but by far the greatest preference was to defer to January 2021 if this meant face-to-face learning would be possible,” said Emmett.

For students who had already chosen to defer or were considering deferring, 18% were only willing to defer for up to three months, 23% for up to 6 months and 13% for up to a year, he said. Eighteen percent stated they were willing to wait until the institution was ready.

“This highlights that more than half of all students (54%) were only willing to defer up to 12 months or less before changing their plans or exploring other study options. This creates a narrow opportunity for destination markets and institutions who rely on September intake.”

Is Canada safe? Are universities still welcoming international students?

To date, international students can still enter the country, provided they meet certain requirements.

The Government of Canada website notes: “If you’re an international student who has a valid study permit, or were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, you’re exempt from the travel restrictions.”

Students, however, can expect to be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival. 

CIC News notes that Canada will make an announcement later this month on its travel guidelines in July 2020 and beyond.

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