International students flooded into Canada in record numbers last year, marking an unexpected trend that surprised and pleased educators and government officials.
The number of international students in Canada with a valid study permit surged to 414,285. That’s 18 percent more international students than were in Canada a year before – almost double the usual growth.
Karen McBride, president of the Canadian Bureau of International Education, attributed the growth to Canada’s reputation as a safe and tolerant country n a global climate of uncertainty.
“There is a lot of media about the rise of populism and anti-immigrant sentiment in other parts of the world,” she said. “Right or wrong, that’s part of the popular discourse right now. Canada is tolerant, safe and welcoming and that makes us all the more appealing.”
The new figures were published by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, which put out a statement saying it was “pleased to see that more international students are making Canada a destination of choice for their international education.”
University of Regina president Vianne Timmons chairs the international committee of Universities Canada, an association that represents all the universities in Canada.
She predicted that the numbers will continue to rise.
“It’s the Trump effect,” she said, theorizing that international students are less interested in attending school in the United States since the anti-immigration rhetoric of the U.S. presidential campaign.
Timmons said 2017 applications from U.S. students are up 70 percent at University of Toronto and more than 30 percent at McMaster University.
“This is good news for the education system and good news for Canada,” McBride said.
“As we see levels increase year over year, the spotlight is on institutions to integrate international students academically and socially. Institutional leaders will be thinking a lot about that.”
The number of international students increased in every province in Canada, with Prince Edward Island, the Yukon and Manitoba the biggest winners in percentage increase.
India China, Vietnam and Brazil had the greatest overall increase in actual students. For a complete look at where students are coming from, and which countries are fueling the growth, see the charts and explanations here.
For a complete look at where students are going across Canada see the story posted here.