How international students impact the Canadian economy

More and more international students view Canada as a top study destination. As Canada recovers and rebuilds post-pandemic, international students will play a crucial role in rebuilding the economy.

Canada is seeing a surge of international student applications for post-secondary education after enrolment declined during the pandemic.

In late 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reported more than 730,000 new student permit applications through August 2021, nearly a 27% increase over the same period in 2019. The growth in 2021 application volumes paints a broader picture of enrolment trends in recent years.

According to the National Statistics Office of Canada, in 2021, 621,565 international students held study permits for post-secondary education.

Economic growth

In 2018, international students contributed $22.3 billion to the Canadian economy. On average, each student who comes into the country spends $32,000 in total on tuition and living expenses.

The overall spending by international students translates to 218,577 jobs supported in the Canadian economy in 2018.

The top three regions in Canada that international students contributed to in 2018 were Ontario ($12.3 billion), British Columbia ($4.7 billion) and Quebec ($2.5 billion).

Educational institutions play a vital role in the labour supply market and economy by aiming to train and guide international students into the workforce.

An aging workforce that sees 73.4% of workers set to retire in the next five to seven years will lead to an influx of new hires.

At the same time, there will be a 26.6% increase in new jobs being created. Canada is facing a shortage of technologically skilled professionals, opening the door for bringing in skilled foreign workers from around the world to keep pace with demand.

Number of international students

The number of international students coming to Canada to study has steadily grown over the years.

Between 2015 and 2021, the number of international students holding study permits in Canada increased by 43%, from 352,330 to 621,565.

As the number of international students studying in Canada has expanded over the last two decades, numerous regulations have been implemented to help them work while studying. International students at the college level saw the most significant growth in labour market involvement, rising from 7% in 2000 to 57% in 2018.

According to IRCC, in 2018, nearly half of all international students came from only two countries: India (172,625), which accounts for about 30% of enrollments and China (142,859), which accounts for about 25%. Other countries with high enrollments are France, Vietnam, Brazil and Iran.

Why study in Canada?

According to Study In Canada, international students choose Canada as their top study destination due to three factors; level of education, job opportunities, and cultural diversity.

Canadian universities are at the top of world rankings; according to QS World University Rankings, more than 20 universities are at the top level and maintain their positions due to their academic excellence.

Along with having top-ranking institutions, there are many job opportunities in Canada whether students are looking for work during or post education. This allows students to hold a part-time job while studying to help cover their living expenses.

Canada has evolved into a multicultural society and is the only western country among the top 20 most diverse countries. Diversity alone is a big reason why international students choose Canada to study.

Recently the Government of Canada implemented new measures for foreign nationals with expired or expiring Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWP) to have the opportunity to work in Canada for an additional 18 months.

Given the impact of international students on the Canadian economy, including imports, exports, and GDP, international students remain at the forefront of immigration.

The Government of Canada has contributed $27 million towards grants and scholarships to international students.

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