Statistics Canada numbers revealed that Canadian public universities and colleges saw almost 48,000 more international student enrolments in the 2018/19 academic year, while enrolments from domestic students dipped by some 8,300.

“International students provide the country with a large pool of well-educated individuals”

In total, postsecondary institutions enrolled more than 318,000 international students in formal programs.

International enrolments have more than tripled from 101,304 in 2008/09, and accounted for 16% enrolments in 2018/2019 – up from 6% a decade before.

In 2018/19, universities in Canada saw 216,096 international students enrol – an annual increase of 10% – and colleges saw a 28% increase, reaching 128,334 international enrolments.

The national agency pointed out that while Covid-19’s current and long-term impact on international student enrolment is “not yet known”, their continued participation in the country’s postsecondary programs is important for a variety of reasons.

“Not only does international student tuition revenue contribute to the viability of some courses and programs, international students increase the social and cultural diversity of campuses,” Statistics Canada said.

“In addition, while contributing to the local economy when studying in Canada, international students provide the country with a large pool of well-educated individuals who could contribute to Canada’s work force and obtain permanent residency.”

A 2015 study found almost a third of international bachelor’s students and almost 50% of master’s students became permanent residents in the ten years after their first study permit was issued, it added.

“The 2018/19 results from the Postsecondary Student Information System can be used as a benchmark to evaluate the impact of Covid-19 on student enrolments and graduates, in particular international student enrolments,” Statistics Canada proposed.

International postsecondary students have experienced “significant changes” to educational instruction, with most students learning remotely, having faced travel restrictions and visa and study permit processing delays, it highlighted.

Previous Statistics Canada analysis showed that in 2017/18 international students accounted for 15% of enrolments across the country but paid almost 40% of all tuition fees.

They accounted for almost $4 billion in annual revenue for Canadian universities that year, too.

In 2017/18, when more than half of international students hailed from China, the most common field of study was business, management and public administration – a trend that continued into 2018/19.

Over 10 years, international student enrolments in business, management and public administration courses has increased by 217%.

While enrolments in humanities have decreased by 25% among Canadian students over the same period, international student enrolments have grown 106%.

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