International Student Survey Terms of Reference

This longitudinal surveying initiative supports the international education sector’s capacity to drive informed, innovative practices through an increased understanding of the stories, motivations, and perceptions of the international students who choose to study in Canada. CBIE, as a member-serving organization, leads the coordination of the survey and shares the data with participating institutions. In turn, institutions can generate insights to understand the experience of international students on their campuses. The benchmarking report allows institutions to compare their performance to similar institutions across Canada and the national average. Participating institutions contribute to building a robust longitudinal national dataset that can inform policy at provincial/territorial and federal levels.

CBIE Responsibilities

  • Manage the development, implementation, reporting and evaluation of the survey.
  • Provides the survey terms of reference to participating institutions.  
  • Provides a promotional toolkit to participating institutions, which includes targeted communications to encourage students to complete the survey. 
  • Assists institutions with their internal review processes, which may include an ethics review or other relevant internal due diligence. 
  • Responds to student queries about the survey. 
  • Collects, cleans, analyzes and presents the survey data.  
  • Circulates the anonymized institution-specific and national datasets and reports to all participating institutions.  
  • Publish a National Survey Report recognizing participating institutions as contributors to benefit the Canadian international education sector. 

Institutional Responsibilities

  • Complete and submit the survey participation agreement. 
  • Reads through the survey terms of reference. 
  • Conduct an internal survey review through an ethics review or other relevant internal due diligence, as required by the institution. 
  • Launch the online survey with the custom link provided by CBIE. 
  • Promotes the survey via emails and social media, encouraging student participation. 

Ethical Review


CBIE has submitted an application to the Community Research Ethics Office (CREO), a Research Ethics Board (REB) that services Canadian not-for-profit organizations, governments, independent consultants, community organizations, community researchers, and others that want to maximize the ethical conduct of their research. CREO’s work aligns with the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2, 2018). Once CBIE’s statement of ethics approval is obtained from CREO for the International Student Survey, it will be circulated to participating institutions to be used as additional information for internal ethics review processes.

Participating Institutions

Many institutions have research ethics boards (REB) that assess research involving human subjects. REBs ensure compliance with ethical standards and protect the dignity, rights and welfare of research participants. Review your institution’s ethics approval procedure. If an internal ethical review is required to complete this project at your institution, in addition to CBIE’s ethics approval obtained from CREO, we highly recommend beginning this process as soon as possible to ensure the survey can be launched at the beginning of October 2023.

CBIE offers assistance to institutions in meeting their ethical requirements. Information to complete your request for ethical review and all the supporting documents are available from the “Supporting Documents” navigation button above. Please note that the password to access this information will be provided by CBIE once the participation agreement has been submitted.

Connecting with Students

CBIE provides institutions with a generic link to the survey. Participating institutions will be responsible for promoting the survey to their students and graduates. Templates for emails and social media posts, as well as a suggested timeline for communications, will be provided.

Institutions can use their preferred version of the email survey invitation that will be sent to students. The email content should appear exactly as your institution wishes it to, including any logos and electronic signatures. These features may help students to understand that the survey is genuine; however, some students’ email programs may not display embedded graphics, rich text formatting, or HTML formatting properly. Institutions are responsible for ensuring that the emails are formatted so that they will pass the spam filters of your institution.


To encourage students to participate in the survey, CBIE is offering three prizes of $ 1,000.  Winners will be randomly selected from the pool of students who complete the survey. To be eligible, students must complete the survey, agree to participate in the draw and give permission to CBIE to contact them if they are one of the winners. CBIE will communicate directly with the winners via email to award the prizes. Winners will be contacted via email between December 4 – 22, 2024. If students agree to share the news with their institution, we will do so via our contact at your institution.  If students agree to share the news with their institution, we will do so via our contact at your institution.      

Institutions can further incentivize the survey specifically for their respective student population.  In this instance, institutions will need to notify their students accordingly, select the winners and coordinate the prize logistics. Each student who completes the survey will receive a confirmation email that can be used as proof of having completed the survey (i.e. students can forward it to a specific inbox at the institution). 

Informed Consent – Survey Participation & Draw Winners

Participants agree to complete the survey to provide anonymized data to support this national research initiative. CBIE will retain the data for 25 years and use it for longitudinal studies.

Participants may withdraw from the survey at any time by closing their browser. Incomplete questionnaires will not be included in the anonymized dataset. Participants can request the removal of their data before June 16, 2023 by sending thier request to

At the end of the questionnaire, participants will be asked if they want to join the draw for a chance to win $1,000. If participants opt-in, they will be instructed to regularly verify their inbox (and spam/junk mail) during June 2023 for an email from The three winners must claim their prize within 14 days of the email notification and validate their identity. Names will not be associated with any of the data provided in the questionnaire. Direct deposit information will be required to transfer the $1,000 prize.

A copy of the online consent form that participants need to agree to before beginning the survey is available here.

Secure Data

CBIE uses the professional Alchemer business account to collect participant data. The web-based method is designed to accommodate a large sample.

Alchemer offers Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption, which works through a cryptographic system to ensure a secure connection between the client (student) and the server (where the responses are saved). SSL is commonly used for online banking sites to transmit secured information. A link with SSL encryption shows the ‘s’ in the ‘HTTP’ address.

Finally, Alchemer complies with Canadian privacy (all data resides on Canadian servers) and accessibility standards (W3C).