How Canada’s 2024 study permit costs compare to other popular study destinations

Julia Hornstein
Published: December 22, 2023

As of January 1st 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will be adjusting the cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants.

Discover your options to study in Canada

This marks a significant update since the early 2000s, when the requirement was set at $10,000 for a single applicant. The new cost-of-living requirement will be $20,635, which is in addition to the first year of tuition and travel costs.

IRCC acknowledges that the previous financial requirement has become outdated, no longer reflecting the actual cost of living in Canada for students. The increase is intended to help prevent student vulnerability and exploitation. Recognizing the challenges this adjustment may pose, IRCC plans to implement targeted pilots to help underrepresented cohorts of international students pursue their studies in Canada.

In a move to ensure ongoing responsiveness to economic conditions, IRCC intends to adjust the cost-of-living requirement each year to keep up with Statistics Canada’s low-income-cut off (LICO).

LICO represents the minimum necessary income required in Canada to ensure that individuals do not need to spend a higher-than-average portion of their income on basic necessities.

For international students, this means that the financial requirements will be closely tied to the cost of living in Canada, adapting to yearly LICO changes. The adjustments will ensure that the cost-of-living requirement accurately reflects the economic reality in Canada

Cost of studying in Canada vs. other global destinations

While the cost-of-living requirement for international students in Canada will see an increase starting January 1st, 2024, it aligns closely with the expenses in other popular study destinations such as New Zealand and Australia. This adjustment positions Canada competitively in the global education market, although it is important to recognize that the requirement will be higher compared to some countries.

Funds required for living expenses to study in Australia are equal to about $21,826 CDN, and $20,340 CDN to study in New Zealand. Living expenses are similar to study in England, ranging from $15,680 CDN to $20,447 CDN.

In comparison, the United States requires international students to show funds of at least $10,000 USD annually, while some countries like France, Germany and Denmark have even lower cost-of-living requirements, with Denmark only requiring around $1,175 CDN in living expenses.

Despite these differences, Canada consistently ranks as a top destination for international students. To illustrate, An Emerging Futures study conducted by IDP Education conducted in March 2023 shows that Canada is the top destination of choice for international students.

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.

Canada is a top study destination for a variety of reasons, including being renowned for its world-class education system. Canadian universities and colleges consistently rank among the best globally, offering a wide range of programs and degrees.

Canadian universities and the Canadian government also provide a range of scholarships, grants, and financial aid options for international students. These can be based on academic merit, financial need, or specific criteria related to the student's field of study.

Employment opportunities and post-graduation work benefits for international students in Canada

International students in Canada are allowed to work part-time during their studies, allowing them to gain work experience and supplement their income. The government allows students to work up to 20 hours per week during the academic semester and full-time during scheduled breaks.

A significant advantage for international students in Canada is the opportunity for post-graduation work. The country offers various work permits, such as the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), allowing students to gain valuable work experience after completing their studies. A PGWP is valid for anywhere between 8 months to 3 years, depending on the length of the study program. This work experience is important when PGWP holders go on to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

The IDP Education study found that 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 permit after graduation.

Canada’s international student numbers expected to soar in 2024

While the cost-of-living requirement aligns with expenses in other sought-after study destinations, Canada still stands out as a top choice, offering world-class education, diverse programs, and ample financial aid opportunities. In fact, Canada is positioned to continue breaking records and attracting students worldwide.

An internal policy document from IRCC has forecasted that the number of international students will reach 949,000 in 2023 and just over a million in 2024. The number is projected to rise to 1.1 million in 2025, 1.28 million in 2026 and 1.4 million in 2027.

Further insights from IRCC reveal a substantial surge in the issuance of study permits for 2023, surpassing the already record-setting numbers of 2022. Given the current pace of study permit processing and issuance, it is anticipated that the number of study permits granted will be a record-breaking high, reaching 600,000 permits by the end of 2023.

Data from IRCC indicates that Canada's international student enrolment and study permit issuance are not slowing down, and these patterns are anticipated to persist beyond 2023.

Discover your options to study in Canada

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