Canada Returned the Number of International Students to Pre-Pandemic Levels
According to new statistics, the number of international students enrolling at Canadian educational institutions in 2021 was almost as high as it was in 2019, the year before the epidemic. However, fewer Chinese, South Korean, and Vietnamese students came to Canada for their education in 2021, in contrast to a greater number of students from a broader range of countries and regions, including Europe and Latin America. Last year, the number of Canadian study permits granted to foreign students was down by only 2.6% when compared with statistics of 2019.
In the last year before the pandemic, the rebound in study permits puts Canada at its record-setting level of 638,280 study permits issued in 2019.
According to the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) data shows that 621,565 study permits were issued last year, up almost 17.7 percent from the 528,190 in 2020.
Altogether, there are clear indications that Canadian educators are making progress in diversifying their international enrolments.
Fewer Chinese, South Korean, and Vietnamese students
The growth in visa numbers came from a wide range of international students market around the world. China remains the second-largest sender of students to Canada, but it sent 9.6% fewer students in 2021, amounting to 105,265 study visas. The drop in Chinese students in Canada began in 2019 with a very small year-over-year dip but it has accelerated since then in large part because of the pandemic. Other factors also appear to be at play. Chinese universities continue to rise in world rankings (including those focused on graduate employability) and Chinese employers are ever more interested in hiring graduates from elite institutions in their country. Both factors offer compelling reasons for Chinese students to remain in China for higher education.
Chinese enrolments are flattening or declining in other leading destinations as well – the UK saw 5% fewer Chinese commencements in 2020/21 and in that same year, Chinese enrolments in the US declined by 15%.
Two other important Asian markets, South Korea and Vietnam sent fewer students to Canada in 2021. Numbers from South Korea declined by 12.7% from 2020 for a total of 15,805 – significantly lower than in 2019, when 24,100 study visas were issued to South Koreans. And 13.6% fewer study visas were issued to Vietnamese in 2021 (16,285) compared with 2020. In 2019, 21,490 visas were accounted for by Vietnamese students.
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