Canada now more popular than the U.S. as a study abroad destination

Mohanad Moetaz
Published: January 19, 2021

Both Canada and the United Kingdom have overtaken the United States as the two most popular study abroad destinations.

This is according to several surveys conducted by, to better understand opinions of students on international education.

Students are not significantly more interested in studying in Canada nor the U.K. than they were before, rather it is the United States' dramatic decrease in popularity that drove the country to lose its top spot.

In January 2018, the U.S. was the most popular destination for international students. It dropped to the third most popular country in October 2020.

The decrease in student interest has been fairly constant over this period. This suggests that it is not one particular event that drove down interest in the U.S., such as COVID-19.

Canada and the U.K. did see a gradual increase in popularity among students. In the period between January 2018 and October 2020, the percentage of survey takers who selected the U.K as their preferred study destination increased from 12.7 per cent to around 15 per cent. In the same period, Canada saw an increase from 10.1 per cent to 13.8 per cent.

The U.S. on the other hand, saw an incremental decrease from 21.6 per cent down to 10.7 per cent. Germany and Australia were fourth and fifth. France, Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Sweden made up the rest of the top 10. is an online platform that helps prospective students find relevant information on their options to study abroad. The platform also allows institutions market themselves.

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Post-study options an important factor in country choice

Options to stay after graduation has become an increasingly important factor in choosing a country to study in. This may have played a role in why the U.S. has become less popular, as the U.S. have more strict visa policies for international graduates.

Canada in comparison is much more welcoming. Graduates have the option to apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit, an open work permit that allows fresh university graduates to work for any employer of their choosing.

The most important factors when choosing which country to study in are the cost of living as well as language and culture. In addition, safety and socio-political climate, and the reputation of the education system are other important factors. All four of these factors have consistently been in the top five factors that determines a country’s popularity.

Post-study options have increased in importance over the last two years. It was ninth in importance in January 2018, but has now jumped to third.

How to study in Canada?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continue to process study permit applications despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

To study in Canada, you must first select the academic program that you wish to study and the institution in which you wish to study. After that you must apply to the designated learning institution (DLI).

Once you receive a letter of acceptance, you can then begin the application process for a study permit. You will need this document in order to legally study in Canada.

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© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit to discover your Canadian immigration options.

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