International students applying to study in Canada say the country’s coronavirus response has been significantly better than the U.S. and the U.K., both important competitors in attracting foreign students.
Canada scored well on a range of factors including pandemic response, safety of citizens and visitors, welfare of international students and economic stability in a survey conducted by student marketing and recruitment company IDP.
The perception is that Canada’s treatment of study permit holders during the COVID-19 outbreak has been on a par with Australia and New Zealand among popular education destinations.
Our #internationalapplicants survey revealed #students are paying attention to how destination countries handle their response to COVID-19. Will it affect where they choose to go? Our Core Member webinar will explore that issue & many more, 3-4pm BST today https://t.co/ziP8t8sxV3 pic.twitter.com/iMwDut0sWm
— IDP Connect (@IDP_Connect) May 6, 2020
“Given the unprecedented challenges the global community is facing, it is encouraging to know the vast majority of students surveyed state their perception of their study destination had not changed and they were holding on to their international education plans,” said IDP Education CEO Andrew Barkla.
The survey saw a range of questions put to 6,900 prospective international students from all over the world, although mainly from the major markets of India and China.
Important conclusions included that foreign students are not giving up on their dreams of studying in Canada, despite the restrictions currently in place.
Candidates are monitoring closely Canada’s easing of restrictions, especially relating to colleges and universities and when face-to-face classes will return.
Related to this, the survey advises countries to provide a clear schedule for when the return to in-person classes will happen. It also advises countries to prepare for large number of students for in-person classes from January 2021.
“Thirty-one per cent of respondents stated they would be willing to start their course online and move to face-to-face learning at a later date, but by far the greatest preference was to defer to January 2021 if this meant face-to-face learning would be possible,” said IDP Connect CEO, Simon Emmett.
“While it is positive there is still strong demand, there is more work to be done,” he added.
“If destination countries and institutions are to meet this demand, governments, community services and the international education sector will need to come together to find solutions that enable students to arrive in-country and commence face-to-face studies soon.”
Canada’s COVID-19 Response
International students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, before March 18 were included in exemptions to Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions, in a significant nod to their importance to the economy.
Those travelling by air will need to pass a health check before boarding their flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada.
Those arriving in Canada will have their health checked before they leave the port of entry. Travellers must have a realistic plan to isolate for 14 days even if they have no symptoms.
International students considered coronavirus essential workers in Canada are exempted from the 20 hours of work per week limit usually applied to study permit holders when classes are in session.
The exemption, in place until August 31, 2020, covers those working in ‘health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods’ according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
It means they are free to help in Canada’s effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Quebec, the immigration ministry has moved to extend the stay of international students whose Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) expired as of April 30, allowing them to apply to stay in the province until the end of 2020.
The move is aimed at those who had their courses interrupted by efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus in the French-speaking province.
Quebec foreign students can now apply to the federal government to have their study permit extended without requiring a new CAQ. This means they can continue as a temporary resident of Canada and complete their program once courses are allowed to resume.