Successful COVID-19 vaccination program drawing international students to Canada, study reveals

More Than A Third Of International Student Allocation Wanted By Ontario Universities
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Ottawa’s successful COVID-19 vaccination program is buoying the confidence of international students who had planned to defer their studies for a year but are now saying they want to come to Canada to study as soon as possible.

“With governments around the world now accelerating their vaccination programmes, the focus will be on which countries are the first to more widely open their borders to international students, and the policies they enact when it comes to their own student populations being vaccinated,” writes Kym Nguyen, vice president of client development with QS Enrolment Solutions.

“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.”

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In its latest Canadian International Student Survey, entitled Supporting Recovery and Driving Growth in Global Higher Education, QS World reveals international students who had planned to defer their studies in Canada are now changing their minds.

Covid-19 Vaccination Program Is Making Canada Safe Again, Say International Students

Many of those students, who have been following Canada’s efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic with a national COVID-19 vaccination program, are feeling the country is once again safe enough to attend university and college in Canada.

In the three months that ended in July this year, 71 per cent of prospective international students interested in Canada as a destination stated the COVID-19 crisis has affected their plans to study abroad, with the majority intending to defer their studies until next year. 

The vaccines’ rollout across Canada, though, has led to many international students once again setting their sights on Canada.

“The acceleration of the vaccine rollout has created a divergence in intentions, with 20 per cent now wanting to start their studies earlier than they had previously planned due to the vaccination rollout,” notes the report. 

Campuses across the country have re-opened this autumn, many of them with a hybrid model of education where some classes are held in person and others online. 

The vast majority of prospective international students, 84 per cent, say they prefer in-person, classroom education over online courses.

More Than a Third of International Students Fine With Hybrid Educational Programs

But the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many of them being open to the now-common hybrid model of university and college education in Canada.

“We also see 35 per cent of prospective students expressing high levels of interest in a hybrid or ‘blended’ learning mode, and 22 per cent expressing high levels of interest for fully online study,” reveals the QS World report.

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.

Ability to Work, Immigrate to Canada Are Attractive for International Students

“Equipping international students with the skills and experience they need to successfully find and maintain employment  – whether in Canada, their home country or elsewhere –  will continue to be a critical component of maintaining student satisfaction and bolster Canada’s reputation as a top destination for international study.”

Canada enjoys a reputation as one of the best places for international students to come and get their university degrees.

In the latest QS World University Rankings 2022 released earlier this year, 26 Canadian universities made it onto the list of 1,000 best places to study, with 10 of those Canadian universities ranked in the top 25 per cent throughout the world.

“Canada has a well-established position among the world’s leading study destinations,” noted QS Quacquarelli Symonds on its website.

“The most popular Canadian provinces for international students are Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec, which between them are home to many of the top universities in Canada.”

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