According to the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, statistics collected from over 250 American colleges and universities showed that applications from international students to American colleges and universities have dropped by 39 per cent in the last year.
Interestingly, Canada has seen a surge in applications by international students.
The largest Canadian University, the University of Toronto has experienced a 20 per cent increase in the number of international applications in the last year, while Wilfrid Laurier University and McMaster University both reported an increase of over 30 per cent.
For a long time, the United States was a much more popular destination for international students. So what changed? Why are students choosing to study in Canada instead?
One answer might be the problematic visa policy in the United States.
The Department of Homeland security has put forward a proposal which would require international students to reapply for their visa every year that they are in school in the United States. In contrast, the Canadian government encourages its students to stay in the country for as long as possible.
On top of that, the Trump administration has stated it plans to impose greater restrictions on international students who want to remain in the US after graduation.
The U.S. visa application system is also a lengthy and complicated process, requiring intense scrutiny, questioning and plenty of waiting. The Canadian visa process is simpler and shorter, making it easier for international students to get a study permit.
A Canadian study permit can be processed in as little as 3 weeks.
Another reason could be cost. Not only is studying in the United States more expensive than the cost of studies in Canada, but financial aid is a lot harder to get as an international student in the United States. Canadian universities are more likely to offer financial aid or scholarships to international students, something which is very rare in the United states.
Tuition costs are only one side of the story – the cost of living is also a lot lower in Canada. International students may be choosing to study in Canada because it’s more affordable.
There’s no denying that U.S. President Donald Trump has affected the way people view the United States.
His stance on foreigners, and especially his criticism of them, is another factor that is leading to international students rejecting the country as a destination for higher education.
Trump is increasingly being seen as encouraging racism and bigotry across the nation and perhaps this is one reason why the upcoming autumn session in Canadian universities has seen an unprecedented surge in applications from international students.
Donald Trump’s policies and especially his travel ban on certain Muslim-majority countries has been seen by many as the demonization of foreigners, which has led to increased racism and with it a renewed fear of gun crime and hate attacks. Perhaps this is why the University of Toronto saw a 20 per cent increase in applications from foreign students this past year alone.
Canada is known for its multiculturalism, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau famously tweeted, in response to President Trump’s threatened ban: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada”.
In stark contrast to what some see as hostile U.S. policy towards foreigners, Canada aims to embrace international students.
By 2022, the Canadian government aims to bring in 450,000 international students to Canada. Currently, there are 353,000 international students studying in the country. Although international students currently make up only 1 per cent of the Canadian population, the number of international students entering Canada has seen a 92 per cent increase since 2008.
Whereas in the United states, the number of international students grew by the slowest rate since 2009. These figures make it clear that international students are increasingly choosing Canada over the United States, which could be due to the policies the Canadian government has adopted to attract international students.
According to the Canadian International Education bureau, more than half of the international student population in Canada seeks to get permanent residence eventually.
International students can work in Canada for up to three years after they graduate on a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which helps them find work and provides a gateway to permanent residence and, eventually, citizenship. This is absolutely not the case in the United States where no employment after graduation is allowed unless you have been sponsored. The general perception among international students is that foreigners are not welcome in the U.S., and this will undoubtedly affect their employability in the local market.
When you think about the biggest differences between Canada and the United States, Canada’s universal healthcare may come to mind.
Since Canadian healthcare is managed by individual provinces, there are differences in the coverage that they offer. Not all provinces offer coverage for temporary residents like international students. That said, students in provinces that don’t include international students can usually opt-in to their school’s insurance plan, or use one of many affordable private insurance providers.
In the United states, international students are required to apply for health insurance by many schools, often having to pay high premiums for private healthcare.
If you would like to study in Canada as an international student, get started by filling out our free online assessment. A member of our team will be in touch shortly to discuss your options!
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