IDP Education: Canada the most appealing international student destination according to new survey
An Emerging Futures study conducted by IDP Education conducted in March shows that Canada is the top destination of choice for international students. This is largely because of the opportunity to gain work experience after graduating.
Over 25% of survey respondents selected Canada as their top choice for international study out of four major destination countries (Canada, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom).
Among the 20,000 survey participants, 63% of students globally say post-study work is the main, or an influencing, factor in where they choose to study and 72% said they would apply for a work visa after graduation.
The survey showed that outside of the main markets of India and China, the availability of the post-study work visa was a major consideration for 61% of students who intend to study in Canada. This increased to 63% for Nigerian students, 75% for students from Vietnam, and 58% for students from Ghana.
The report quotes Christine Wach, Director of Client Partnerships for North America at IDP Connect. She said that the survey findings show that “students see Canada as a welcoming, affordable, and safe place to study with good work opportunities available upon graduation.”
Further, the study found that 53% of students consider the employment opportunities available after graduation as a top consideration when selecting a destination. Other findings in the study showed that 61% of students said high-quality education was a deciding factor in their choice and 43% were looking for part-time work opportunities while studying.
International students in Canada are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week throughout the academic year without obtaining a work permit. They may work full-time during winter and summer holidays provided they return to full-time studies the following semester. The study found that 81% of respondents were already working or planning to work part-time during their studies.
Post-Graduation Work Permits
Canada offers graduating international students the opportunity to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) as a way to gain experience living and working in Canada. This experience can be used towards getting status as a permanent resident and eventually becoming a Canadian citizen, if so desired.
PGWPs are a one-time-only permit and are valid for up to three years depending on the length of the international student’s program of study. To be eligible, they must have completed their program as a full-time student at a designated learning institution.
The study found international students were less interested in how many years they could stay in Canada after they finished their program, and instead were more interested in gaining relevant experience to ease their entry into the job market. Just 48% said the length of the stay was the most attractive part of post-study work rights. However, 44% said they would move their studies to another country if the length of the post-study visa was shortened.
Why does Canada need international students?
Canada is currently host to over 800,000 international students and works hard to position itself as a top destination for post-secondary education. Retaining graduates in Canada after they complete their studies can be beneficial for the labour force and economy, as the country’s population is aging and the number of job vacancies remains high.
Statistics Canada data from 2022 shows that immigrants with Canadian study experience were younger, more educated, more likely to speak an official language and much more likely to have pre-admission earnings in Canada than immigrants who did not study in Canada.
Wach says that to remain attractive to students in the face of competition from other countries, Canada needs to create more diversity in the classroom and the future workforce.
“Policy makers, educators and employers should be connecting in meaningful ways, while more effort is required to further increase awareness of the contribution students make as employees and to improve access to work opportunities for international students. If this can be achieved at both national and regional levels, we will see more diversity in terms of the students coming to Canada as well where they choose to study within Canada,” said Wach.
The study concludes that in the face of the rising cost of living, international students need more support and guidance. It found that 51% of them are reconsidering their choice to study abroad due to rising costs. They are now looking to institutions for support in finding part-time jobs and seeking clear guidance about the total cost of their education.