Why Canada could soon be the No.1 study abroad destination
A view of Vancouver, Canada, a popular city for international students. Source: Shutterstock

What motivates students to choose a particular country for their studies? University rankings, financial cost, the beauty of the landscape – all factors that weigh towards their decisions, but there is one particular aspect of a country that appeals to most international students…

This is the ease of settling down in the country after graduation.

While there certainly are some international students who leave to study abroad with a mindset to return home after studies, a large percentage view their global studies as the chance to live out their dream of migrating overseas.

The urge to settle down abroad may have several motivations behind it; a lack of opportunities back home, higher salaries and benefits overseas, wanting to get away from political clashes, seeking a greater work-life balance, or raising children in a safer environment.

While decades ago, the US was one of the top countries for international students to settle down in, it’s gradually becoming harder and harder for them to do so.

This is due to several factors – the due tightening of security post 9/11, visa restrictions in the current Trump era, and a need to reduce dependence on foreign skilled workers.

The same goes for the United Kingdom and Australia – once countries that were seen as ‘lands of opportunity’ are now making it increasingly difficult for foreign students to land jobs, obtain work visas, and consequently emigrate or settle down after graduation.

Canada, on the other hand, is burgeoning as the new country of choice to settle down in post-graduation, and the government knows it.

According to The Christian Science Monitor, “the government eased rules for international students. They can now work on and off campus while studying and secure three-year visas afterward, all of which counts toward eventual permanent residency – making Canadian academia more international than it has ever been.”

Why does Canada want to make it easier for international students to work there?

The article states that the Canadian government views “attracting global talent as its path forward, including as an antidote to an aging population and declining fertility rates. Those skilled immigrants could be a boon to Canada as it faces global and technological change.”

The Canadian government views international students as an asset to the country, as “Graduates who stay continue to contribute to our economy, starting businesses and becoming major assets to Canadian companies with their global perspective and ties to international markets. Those who return home act as ambassadors for Canada, deepening our ties with those countries and encouraging more students to come here.”

Their efforts to attract more students is working, as according to statistics, the number of international students with study permits has almost doubled since 2011.

According to The Globe and Mail, “Canada has achieved spectacular success in attracting international students. More than 570,000 people from abroad are now studying in this country. This is a remarkable surge of 60 per cent from three years ago.”


Harsh winters don’t deter international students from studying and working in Canada. Source: Laurier

In 2017, Canada had about half a million international students across the country, jumping 20 percent from 2016. Chinese and Indian students make up the largest portion of international students in the country.

According to the 2018 Application Trends survey report by the Graduate Management Admission Council, applications from international students for MBA programmes are on the rise, while they take a downward turn in the US.

For other degree programmes, interest is also on an upward trend in Canada, especially in the STEM disciplines, helping Canada address the current skills gap in the sector.

The US is still widely known as the No.1 place to study for international students, followed by the United Kingdom at No.2.

However, according to the 2018 QS Applicant Survey, Canada could soon be knocking the UK out of its position, meaning it could be well on its way to becoming number one in the near future.

Mr. Davidson, President of Universities Canada said, “Canada is safe, secure, and welcoming, and those are important messages. Then taking it up a notch right now, Canada is seen globally as a place that’s progressive, dynamic, that’s inclusive. And those are all attributes that people who are interested in international study find attractive.”

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