Visa Crunch

Canada Performs Better Than Any Other Country In Welcoming Overseas Students During Pandemic

According to the World University Rankings organization, Canada has done better than many other countries in recruiting overseas students, despite border limitations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic causing significant modifications in the last two years.

“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.

According to an article published on Thursday, Canada’s foreign student enrolment closed off last year nearly as high as it did in 2019, the highest year for international student enrolment in Canada. The number of permits issued in August 2021 was higher than in August 2018 and nearly as high as the benchmark 113,000 issued in August 2019.

This recovery was corroborated in a report from student recruitment platform ApplyBoard, which stated in a November report that 175,000 study permits were issued in the first six months of 2021, more than doubling the number issued in the entire year of 2020. However, when it comes to international student enrollment, the global pandemic did not leave Canadian universities and colleges completely unharmed.

“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.”

Last autumn, two Canadian universities ranked in the top 50 of the World University Rankings reported a drop in Chinese enrolment. McGill University witnessed a 6% reduction in Chinese student enrollment, while the University of British Columbia had a 4% drop.

However, neither university appears to have suffered a significant drop in enrollment. Total international enrollment at (the University of) British Columbia is now 6% higher than in 2019, with Indian enrollment up 50%. Therefore, while visa processing issues arose, Canada’s general openness during the pandemic appears to have reaped dividends.

Foreign nationals are confident in Canada’s ability to control the Covid-19 pandemic and care for its patients amid this global disaster, according to polls.

“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 (WES).

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

Fifty-eight per cent of those surveyed said they were highly interested in moving to Canada because of the Canadian government’s and healthcare system’s abilities to control the pandemic and care for Covid-19 patients.

The report’s faith in Canada’s ability to properly manage the pandemic reflects the findings of another research done last year. It demonstrated that Ottawa’s successful Covid-19 vaccination program had boosted the confidence of overseas students who had planned to postpone their studies for a year but changed their minds and decided to come to Canada as soon as feasible.

“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.

Last year, QS World highlighted in its Canadian International Student Survey, headlined Supporting Recovery and Driving Growth in Global Higher Education, that international students who had planned to postpone their studies in Canada altered their views due to Canada’s pandemic response.

Several of those students, who had been tracking Canada’s efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic with a nationwide Covid-19 vaccine program, believed that the country was safe enough to attend university and college in Canada last year.

One of the draws of Canada for these overseas students is the ability to work both while studying and after graduation, which is made possible by the country’s Study Permits and Post-Graduation Work Permits.

That employment experience can then be used to increase their Comprehensive Ranking System points, increasing their prospects of moving to Canada and becoming permanent residents. The capacity to upskill is an essential aspect for many prospective students when deciding on a degree and how it will affect their future jobs.

All these students hope to advance their careers in international corporations or government positions. Sixty-eight per cent of prospective students interested in studying in Canada plan to stay temporarily after graduation to work and live, while 29 per cent intend to stay permanently.

Canada welcomed a record-breaking 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021 and plans to exceed that figure this year with an immigration target of 411,000 new permanent residents.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.

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