Canada Now More Popular than the UK among International Undergraduates

CIC News
Published: May 17, 2016

More international undergraduates are coming to Canada to study than to the United Kingdom (UK), with tighter immigration rules in the UK cited as one of the main reasons why the country has now been overtaken by Canada in the competition for these students.

The findings come from an all-party parliamentary group in the UK, which recently determined that immigration strategy has led to many international students choosing to study in other countries, such as Canada. The group echoes recent warnings made by UK politicians and academics that by including international students in targets to cut net migration, there is a risk in putting them off coming to the UK in the first place.

Meanwhile, the new government of Canada has increased overall immigration target levels and announced that it aims to find ways to make the immigration process simpler and more straightforward for international students once they have completed their studies in Canada. The Liberal government of Canada is generally perceived as being pro-immigration, and it is believed that immigration target levels may increase again over the coming years of the government’s mandate.

Immigration Minister John McCallum recently stated that Canada “must do more to attract students to this country as permanent residents,” adding that “they are the cream of the crop in terms of potential future Canadians.”

Such positive, welcoming rhetoric from the Canadian Immigration Minister is quite different from comments and proposals made over recent years by peers in other developed countries, such as the UK and the United States. Last year, the UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, was forced to defend a government plan to expel international students from the UK after graduation. The UK government aims to “move towards zero net student migration,” with foreign students finding it extremely difficult to remain in the country once they graduate.

In contrast, depending on the study program and the Canadian province in which an international student is studying, he or she may have multiple options for pursuing permanent resident status. After a permanent resident has resided in Canada for a certain period, he or she may then apply for Canadian citizenship.

For example, a graduate from a Canadian educational institution, who then goes on to gain work experience in Canada, may be eligible for Canadian permanent residence under more than one federal immigration program (the Federal Skilled Worker Class and the Canadian Experience Class), as well as multiple Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), many of which encourage graduates to apply under specific streams. In some cases, individuals who graduated from an institution one province may even be eligible to apply under a PNP in another province.

Other factors

Aside from immigration strategy, there are multiple reasons why Canada is increasingly favoured as a study destination. With quality and more affordable tuition, employment options (both during and after the study period), safe cities, and as a pathway to Canadian permanent residence, Canada is becoming a more popular study destination than ever before.

Moreover, an increasing number of Canadian education institutions are quickly gaining global renown for the breadth of research and learning opportunities on offer.

To learn more about the specific advantages that studying in Canada can offer, compared with competitor countries, consider the following:

  • Canada is a vast, diverse nation with different living and learning environments. To learn more about provinces and locations for studying in Canada, click here.
  • Transfer programs allow international students in Canada to begin studying at a college, but later transfer to a university.
  • Foreign spouses or common-law partners of international students can also come to Canada with an open work permit.
  • International students in Canada can work off-campus while studying, allowing them to gain an income, build up valuable Canadian work experience, and make professional connections that can help kick-start their career.
  • Upon graduation, international students in Canada may obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit for up to three years. This open work permit allows graduates to work for any employer in Canada.
  • Canada wants its cohort of international students to build their careers in Canada. Therefore, there are many ways for students to obtain Canadian permanent resident status after completing studies in Canada.
  • For individuals who may be ineligible to apply for Canadian permanent residence currently, studying in Canada presents a pathway to immigration.

According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), there was an 83 percent increase in the number of international students in Canada between 2008 and 2014. In addition, 95 percent of international students would recommend Canada as a study destination, and more than half of all international students plan on applying for permanent residence. Students in Canada told the CBIE that their top three reasons for coming to Canada to study were:

  • the quality of the Canadian education system;
  • Canada’s reputation as a tolerant and non-discriminatory society; and
  • Canada’s reputation as a safe country.

A striking contrast

“When it comes to how it treats international students, there is a stark contrast between Canada and its competitor nations in the developed world. This is particularly the case for undergraduate students,” says Attorney David Cohen.

“While some people may be surprised that Canada is now attracting more of them than the UK, we really shouldn’t be all that shocked. All the positive factors are in place for students to be attracted to Canada. It is an exciting time for Canadian schools and businesses, who can benefit from the world’s best and brightest coming here. Further, Canada as a country benefits from the consistent arrival of young minds with new, innovative ideas.” offers a range of tools and resources to help international students get started on their plans to study in Canada. To begin using these tools and resources, click here.

© 2016 CICNews All Rights Reserved

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