How Indian students are changing the educational demographic of Canada

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: October 23, 2022

International students are changing the demographics of education in Canada, with Indian international students overwhelmingly leading the charge.

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According to Statistics Canada’s September 12th report, the demand for post-college credential programs (PCC) (credentials typically requiring some other form of post-secondary education first to be eligible) has shot up in popularity in Canada, increasing from 6% of all graduations in 2014 to over 13% of all college graduations in 2019.

While these PCCs are popular for the career-specific training that they can provide students—by far the largest explanation for the rise in popularity has been the correlated increase in international students at colleges. International students made up 67% of those graduating with a PCC in 2019, and of these, Indian international students made up 53% of this group.

This means that of the 33,200 graduations with a PCC that happened in 2019, over 17,700 of these were to international Indian students. This is a unique phenomenon as for most other educational programs, Indian students represent a minority within the total demographic of graduates in Canada.

Immigration outcomes for these students

What outcomes did these international students face? Overall, 80% of those who graduated with a PCC in 2015 had obtained permanent residency (PR) within 5 years of graduating. International students often make immigration considerations when choosing their education paths; this can be seen by the comparative percentages of people in a master's program (71%), a non-postgraduate college certificate/credential (69%), and with a bachelor’s degree (50%) who graduated in 2015 and achieved PR.

Of these individuals who achieved PR, Indian students accounted for more than 80% on average of all applicants across these four streams of education, with the highest proportion being those graduating with a PCC (85%). International students from other countries achieved PR at lesser percentages than Indian students, throughout all programs.

Wages and work outcomes for these students

According to Statistics Canada, international students who graduated with a PCC in 2015 earned $44,000 in 2019. This total was more in line with earnings of those graduating with a bachelor’s in 2015 ($ 47,000), and more than those with a non-postgraduate college certificate or diploma ($ 38,000).

The benefits of a Canadian education

Studying in Canada, especially for the purposes of finding work and/or immigrating to the country afterward can be a hugely beneficial move. Not only does a Canadian degree or credential (from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution) carry worthwhile skills and deliver an internationally accredited quality of education (which in turn can help greatly in trying to acquire high-paying work in the Canadian market); but international students in Canada are able to work part-time during their studies (thereby having a means of taking care of themselves). Studying in Canada is also a very strong way to improve one’s Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score; the primary way that federal skilled immigration candidates will be assessed by the Canadian government.

Canadian international students have multiple immigration pathways open to them, and (as evidenced by the data in this report) can be successful not just within the Canadian job market, but also in their bids for PR.

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