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Study Calls on Canadian Government to Continue Efforts to Attract and Retain International Students

Canada has realized the growing need for international students to help meet labour market needs and boost economic demands, especially with the country’s current aging population and slowing birth rates. Having made great strides to boost its international education sector in the past few years, a recent study has proposed several recommendations that would further benefit Canada’s goal of attracting and retaining students from abroad. 

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The number of international students choosing to study in Canada has continued to rise in recent years. In 2018, Canadian institutions saw a 20% increase in enrollment from the previous year. From its relatively affordable tuition, quality education and being home to some of the world’s most employable schools, Canada is a leading destination for students abroad.

According to the Century Initiative study, only a small percentage of international graduates will remain in Canada to apply their learnt skills and efforts into the Canadian workforce, to which the study calls “a lost opportunity”. While Canada is on track to welcome the highest number of international students in history this year, retention of international students in Canada must continue to be a priority.

Government’s Efforts to Target International Students Reinforced by Study

The federal government has made positive efforts in the past couple of years to grow its number of study permit applications. Last year, the Study Direct Stream (SDS) was introduced and made available to a select number of Asian countries. This summer, the SDS had expanded toinclude students from Pakistan, Morocco and Senegal, making it easier and faster for students from these countries to bring their studies to Canada With programs like the SDS, the study recommends further concentration on targeting international students from a more diverse number of countries. 

In addition, the Canadian government recently delivered an International Education Strategy that would allocate $29 million to help boost its current education sector and labour force. Included in this 5 year strategy are plans to make the application process easier and encourage foreign students to choose schools outside of Canada’s major cities. 

The study encourages post secondary institutions in smaller centres to offer incentives for students to stay and work in the area. Director of the study, Jasmine Gill, goes on to say that “Canada is fortunate to be home to dozens of high-quality public universities and colleges in mid-sized and smaller population centres, which could serve as catalysts for increased retention of international students and as portals for their contribution to local economies.” 

Other recommendations from the study include establishing a central information portal to better inform newcomers of their immigration options after graduation, creating a national roundtable to review policies that affect international students, and connecting international students with potential areas of strong labour market demand. 

Immigration Options After Graduation

International students that choose Canada have one great advantage, that after graduation, they may apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) which allows recent graduates to live and work in Canada for up to three years. Having a Canadian education and work experience are two major requirements of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) of Express Entry, making it an excellent option putting you on the path to becoming a permanent resident of Canada!


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