Canada books another strong year of international enrolment growth

In its annual report ,’The Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE)’ on’ the  state of international education in Canada’ this week reported the statistics and analysis on foreign student enrolment in Canada along with outbound mobility and emerging trends in international education.

Highlight for the present year is that the number of international students in Canada continues to increase. The main points of the report were :

  1. International student enrolment in Canada has increased by 83% since 2008 and 10% year-over-year between 2013 and1014.
  2. More than seven to ten international students in Canada come from ten sending markets, and six in ten come from Asia.

The Canadian Bureau for International Education reports an important factor for this growth in 2014. According to this report the temporary residents having both study permit and work permits were included in the enrolment count  for the year 2014,whereas,in previous years the temporary residents holding both types of permits had not  been  included in student counts. This change in the methodology in the year 2014 is the cause of considerable growth in reported number of international students in Canada over previous year.

The following chart maps the enrollment growth from 2008. It is to be noted that in a Canadian context the term ‘study permit’ is the term used to refer to study visas and these permits are required only for the students who study at a level for six months or more, therefore, these students counts do not reflect enrolment for language studies or any other programme of the duration of less than six months.

International students in Canada by year, all levels of study, 2008-2014

International students in Canada by year, all levels of study 2008-2014.  Source: CBIE.

According to the Project Atlas report given by the Institute of International Educations (IIE), in the global population of internationally mobile students, the Canada share has got a raise up slightly this year up to 6% as compared to 5% last year. After the US, the UK, China, Germany, France and Australia, Canada retains its position as the seventh – largest international study destination.

Market share of leading destinations of the estimated 4.5 million internationally mobile students in 2014

Market share of leading destinations of the estimated 4.5 million internationally mobile students in 2014. Source: Project Atlas IIE

CBIE report also provides important insight on students’ intentions in relation to their current programme of study. This is to be noted this year:

  • 40% of the students are intending to go for their further studies in Canada out of which 24%at another institutions and 16% at their current institution.
  • 51% intend to seek permanent resident status in Canada following their studies.

The big ten

Six in ten international students in Canada are from Asia (46% East Asia; 14% South Asia). Europe and the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) account for another 10%  each, and Africa a further 7%. Markets in Latin America and the Caribbean also account for roughly 7% of foreign enrolment in Canada, while the most proximate sending market, the US, comes in at 4% for 2014.

Drilling down a bit, CBIE reports that the top five sending countries for Canada – China, India, South Korea, France, and Saudi Arabia – accounted for six in ten international students in Canada.

The top ten countries – add the US, Brazil, Nigeria, Japan, and Mexico at this point – sent 72% of Canada’s foreign students in 2014. “This proportion remains relatively unchanged from the 2012 figure of 70%,??? notes CBIE, “indicating that in recent years there has been little change in the representational diversity of international students in Canada.???

The following table provides a breakdown for Canada’s top ten sending markets. We should note that just outside of the top ten are Vietnam, Iran, Pakistan, the UK, and Russia, each of which accounted for between .99% and 1.44% of Canada’s foreign students in 2014.

Top ten sending markets for Canada, 2014

Top ten sending markets for Canada, 2014. Source: CBIE

The fastest- growing sending markets for Canada in 2014 were as follows:

  • China(110,918 students in 2014  and 16% increase over 2013)
  • India (38891 and 11% growth)
  • France(19035 and 15% growth)
  • Brazil ( 8920 and 15%growth
  • Nigeria (8620 and a notable 25 % increase over 2013)
  • Vietnam has sent 4883 students in 2014 for 16% increase over the last year.

In contrast to the above mentioned data, three other important   sending markets- Soudi Arabia, Maxico and Iran declined between 2013 and 2014 by 2%, 3% and 10% respectively.

 Focus on Higher Education

In 2014, the major number of Canada international students ( 79.8% or 268659) were enrolled in post –secondary studies. About 52000(15.4%) were pursuing secondary studies .There was a little less than 5% of total enrolment in the other fields of study i.e., language programme or otherwise.

As was mentioned earlier, all the given figures understate the enrolment in shorter term language programmes as all these students will not have studied in Canada with a study permit for the programmes which are of less than six months.

A separate report from Language Canada indicates that Canada welcomed 137416 language students in 2014.Meaning thereby, just over a third of those i.e,, 34% held study permits which suggests that the increased number language students i.e, above the enrolment reported by CBIE and CIC for 2014 is about 90700for this  year.

In this way, combining the language Canada and CIC statistics makes it a total head count for international students in Canada at nearly about 427000 for 2014.

Eye on Trends

There are two main trends mentioned in the report –

  • The growth of intra- regional mobility and
  • Emerging global education hubs.

CBIE marks that OECD data indicating a growth

trend in mobility between the neighboring   countries. It is to be noted that 21% of all the mobile students in the year 2012 were from those countries that shared their boarder.

Same pattern is working worldwide. However it is mainly notable on Europe where major mobility programmes play an important role in Asia and Southeast Asia, a common space of Higher Education has been settled in order to boost mobility among ASEAN states.

CBIE puts forward the argument that Canada provides  assistance in intra –regional mobility by enhancing its efforts in order to strengthen its ties with the other countries like, US, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean,

The extent of intra –regional mobility growth can be measured from the fact that while traditional destination countries attracts the major share of internationally mobile students, regional hubs are also drawing greater numbers only because of their neighboring countries which acts as an accelerator for the intra- regional mobility as well.

In the words of CBIE CEO Karen McBride, internationalization has no longer remained a peripheral activity but it has become a core strategy of many schools and institutions today. This latest trend in fact shapes and shifts international education market. It will continue to engage the international educators in Canada as well as around the world.