According to the Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform, 65% of students from overseas who started their master’s program in 2013 had completed their course within two years. For students hailing from Canada, only 58% had managed the same.
“International graduate students may be more likely to complete their studies in less time because of their higher tuition fees”
While 83% of domestic students had graduated after four years, by comparison, 87% of international students had done so.
Statistics Canada suggested that the earlier and higher graduation rates could be a result of international students having educational qualifications or qualifying programs started or completed outside Canada before attending a Canadian university.
“International graduate students may also be more likely to complete their studies in less time because of their higher tuition fees, the costs of living away from home and the terms of their study permits,” a spokesperson said.
In 2013, international students paid on average more than twice as much in tuition fees, which stood at $13,490, compared with the average $6,038 Canadian students were charged.
Statistics Canada also noted that Canadian students may also take longer to complete their studies because they are more likely to combine school and work and to study part-time at the master’s level, which a 2019 report revealed.
A previous paper has also suggested that international graduates who remain in Canada earn between 17% and 38% less than Canadian graduates one year after graduation – a pay gap that narrows over time.
The government in Canada has added study and work permit flexibility during the global pandemic, as well as an extension to the post-graduation work permit scheme.
It remains unclear how the coronavirus pandemic will affect international student numbers in Canada.
While some have warned an “international student recession” could put a number of institutions in the country at financial risk, agents have indicated an uptick in interest for Canadian education during the crisis.
Statistics Canada noted that in 2016 more than a quarter (12,195) of the more than 43,000 students entering a master’s degree program at a Canadian university were international students – up from just over one-fifth in 2011.
In 2019, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada statistics showed more than 400,000 study permits were issued in 2019, an increase of almost 50,000 on 2018 figures.
Statistics Canada added that the Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform will be one source that will help to examine the impact of the pandemic on international student pathways in the years to come.