Canada Leads Way In Recruitment Of International Students During COVID-19

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Canada Leads Way In Recruitment Of International Students During COVID-19
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Canada immigration news: Canada has fared better than many other countries in recruiting international students, despite border restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a lot of changes in the past two years, notes the World University Rankings organization.

“The latest data, which show the number of study permit holders by the date the paperwork became effective, indicate a strong bounce back in (international student enrolments in Canada in)2021,” notes the organization’s data editor Simon Baker.


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In an article released Thursday, the organization reveals Canada’s international student enrolment closed off last year almost as high as in 2019, the peak year for international student enrolment in Canada.

“The number of permits effective in August 2021 was higher than the number issued in August 2018 and almost as high as the record 113,000 issued in August 2019,” notes the organization. 

“This rebound was confirmed in a report from student recruitment platform ApplyBoard, which said in a November report that 175,000 permits had been issued in the first six months of 2021, double those issued in the whole of 2020.”

Pandemic Led To Slowdown In Processing Times

The global pandemic did not, however, leave Canadian universities and colleges entirely unscathed when it comes to international student enrolment. 

“Canada has not exactly sailed through the pandemic without any problems,” writes Baker. “A backlog in applications for study permits earlier in 2021 led to long processing times and the data bear this out: the normal winter peak in issuances failed to materialize in 2020-21, especially for key countries such as China and India, and there is a chance this may have affected autumn 2021 enrolments, especially if students frustrated by the process chose to apply to other destinations.”

Two Canadian universities that rank in the top 50 of the World University Rankings reported a fall in enrolments from China last autumn. McGill University saw a drop of six per cent in student enrolments from China and the University of British Columbia a drop of four per cent.

“But neither university appears to have suffered a major enrolment setback overall. For (the University of) British Columbia, total international numbers are now six per cent higher than in 2019, with Indian enrolments 50 per cent higher,” notes the organization. 

“So while visa processing may have caused some teething problems, Canada’s general openness during the pandemic appears to have paid dividends.”

Surveys show foreign nationals are confident in Canada’s ability to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and care for its sick during this global emergency.

“A positive perception of the ability of the government and health care system in Canada to manage the pandemic is having a positive impact on interest in immigrating,” notes World Education Services.

In a report entitled One Year Later: Canada’s Enduring Appeal to Prospective Immigrants in the Face of COVID-19, Comparative Analysis, August 2020 – August 2021, the non-profit that provides credential evaluations for international students and immigrants revealed Canada’s response to the pandemic has kept interest in immigrating high.

Canada a Top Destination For International Students

“Fifty-eight percent of respondents indicated that they were more interested in immigrating to Canada because of the ability of the Canadian Government and healthcare system to manage the pandemic and care for COVID-19 patients,” states the report.

The confidence in Canada’s ability to effectively manage the pandemic revealed in this report echoes the findings of another study completed last year.

It showed Ottawa’s successful COVID-19 vaccination program had then buoyed the confidence of international students who had previously planned to defer their studies for a year but changed their minds and decided to instead come to Canada, as planned, as soon as possible.

“Canada’s successful vaccination rollout will hold the country in good stead to take the lead on a less restrictive international travel environment though universities will still need to carefully consider how they manage their international recruitment strategies for the rest of the year and what measures they can implement to safeguard against any future setbacks,” wrote Kym Nguyen, vice president of client development with QS Enrolment Solutions, last year.

 In its Canadian International Student Survey, entitled Supporting Recovery and Driving Growth in Global Higher Education, QS World revealed last year that international students who had planned to defer their studies in Canada changed their minds due to Canada’s pandemic response.

Many of those students, who followed Canada’s efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic with a national COVID-19 vaccination program, felt last year the country was once again safe enough to attend university and college in Canada.

Among the attractions of Canada for these international students is the opportunity to find jobs both while studying and afterwards, something made possible by the country’s Study Permits and Post-Graduation Work Permits. 

That work experience can then count towards upping their Comprehensive Ranking System points and improve their chances of immigrating to Canada and becoming permanent residents.

“The ability to upskill is an important consideration for many prospective students when thinking about their preferred course and how that can influence their future careers,” notes the report.

“Those same students also have ambitions to go on to establish their careers in multinational organisations or government sector roles. Sixty-eight per cent of prospective students interested in studying in Canada intend to stay temporarily upon graduating in order to work and live, and 29 per cent plan to stay permanently.

In 2021, Canada welcomed a record-breaking 401,000 new permanent residents and intends to surpass that this year with an immigration target of 411,000 new permanent residents.

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