Facts and Figures

Canada’s Performance and Potential in International Education

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International Student Worldwide

  • It is estimated that in 2014 the number of internationally mobile students surpassed the 5 million mark, and that by 2022 the number of internationally mobile students will reach 7 million[1],[2].

International Students in Canada

  • Canada ranks as the world’s 7th most popular destination for international students.
  • There were 336,497 international students in Canada in 2014, representing an 83% increase since 2008, and an increase of 10% over the previous year.
  • International students made up 11% of the postsecondary student population in Canada in the 2012-2013 academic year.

Economic Impact of International Students in Canada

  • Canada derives nearly $8B annually from international student expenditures including tuition and living expenses[3].
  • The presence of international students created over 81,000 jobs and generated over than $445M in government revenue (2010)[4].

Top Sending Countries

  • Students from China make up fully one-third (33%) of Canada’s international student population, followed by students from India (12%), South Korea (5.8%), France (5.7%) and Saudi Arabia (4%):
  • Countries with the fastest growing number of international students in Canada (2013- 2014): Nigeria (+25%), Vietnam (+16%), Brazil (+15%), and France (+15%)

International students by Level of study

  • Over half (58%) of all international students in Canada are studying at universities and 7% are pursuing a college education.
  • Students studying at the primary, secondary or cégep (QC) level make up about 15% of the international student population in Canada.

International Students in Canada by Province and Territory

  • Of the 336,497 international students in Canada, 86% are in Ontario, British Columbia or Québec.

The International Students’ Voice

  • According to CBIE’s International Student Survey (2015), Engineering, business and the natural and social sciences are the top fields of study of international students in Canada.
  • The top alternate study destinations considered by international students in Canada are the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Pathways to Canadian Education

  • According to CBIE’s International Student Survey (2015) 15% of post-secondary international students have previous experience pursuing studies in Canada. Of those, 8% begin their Canadian education experience at the secondary or primary level.
  • Canada’s coordination in pathways programs for international students is not well developed compared with other global destination hubs. For example, in Australia, 80% of international students arrive at post-secondary education through well-defined pathways programs, compared with 30% of international students in Canada (Illuminate Consulting Group, 2015[5].

Education Abroad

  • 97% of Canadian universities offer education abroad programs[6] and 82% of Canadian colleges and institutes offer education abroad[7].
  • Despite the documented personal and national benefits of education abroad, only 3.1% of full-time Canadian undergraduate university students[8] and 1.1% of full-time college students[9] have a credit or not-for-credit education abroad experience annually.
  • Approximately 30% of German students[10], 10% of US students[11], 13% of Australians[12] go abroad at some point during their degree.
  • The top barrier to participation for Canadian students remains financial.
  • In 2014, CBIE made a call for Canada to provide 50,000 education abroad awards by 2022 in order to overcome Canada’s critical international skills deficit.

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CBIE, A World of Learning: Canada’s Performance and Potential in International Education 2015, unless otherwise noted:

[1] OECD, Education at a glance 2014

[2] ICEF Monitor, Summing up international student mobility in 2014

[3], [4] Roslyn Kunin and Associates Inc., Economic impact of international education in Canada – Final report: An update, 2012

[5] Illuminate Consulting Group, International Students Pathways in Canada, 2015

[6], [8] Universities Canada, Canada’s Universities in the World: AUCC Internationalization Survey, 2014

[7], [9] CICan, Internationalizing Canadian Colleges and Institutes: The First National Report on International Education and Mobility, 2010

[10] Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy, International Education: A Key Driver of Canada’s Future Prosperity, 2012

[11] Generation Study Abroad website, Today’s Numbers, 2015

[12] Universities Australia website, Outbound Mobility, June 26, 2013.