According to the survey, the total number of students in the region – consisting of four provinces – increased by 3,016, from 74,762 in 2018 to 77,778 in 2019.
The figures show Nova Scotia’s 10 universities enrolled 5.8% more students in 2019 compared with the previous year, while New Brunswick’s institutions saw more moderate growth of 0.8%.
“This growth is consistent with our expectations and the work we’ve done in international markets”
The University of Prince Edward Island’s numbers rose 5.8%, while Memorial University in Newfoundland enrolled 410 more students in 2019, marking an increase of 2.7%.
The data also show that 40,801 students are enrolled at Nova Scotia post-secondary institutions – 11,817 of those hold visas, according to the province’s industry association EduNova.
Cape Breton University is the first Canadian university to pass the 50% international student threshold, according to The Globe and Mail.
In 2019, its student cohort rose by 1,377 students – the vast majority at the undergraduate level.
“Cape Breton University has seen an increase in numbers and we are on track for current targets,” according to Victor Tomiczek, manager, Enrolment Services (International).
“This growth is consistent with our expectations and the work we’ve done in international markets. The focus has been, and remains to be, on providing the necessary academic and support services to enhance the student learning experience,” he told The PIE News.
An example of this is CBU’s purchasing of vans to help its international students reach work opportunities in the area.
“To strengthen these supports, we are currently concentrating on scaling the growth appropriately,” Tomiczek added.
Mount Saint Vincent University, also in Nova Scotia, saw enrolments grow by 9.4%.
Almost 20% (672 students) of its student population is international, and it represents the university’s strongest international enrolment to date, associate vice-president of Student Experience, Paula Barry Mercer, noted.
“This year we welcomed many new students from India, and have strong enrolments from Vietnam, China, Nigeria, Rwanda and Bermuda,” she said.
The university’s two international recruiters have been building relationships with agents and forging their own local connections in key international locations across Asia, the Americas, Africa and beyond, Mercer added.
“Our aim is to ensure a diverse international student population at the Mount – this contributes to a better experience for all students.”
In 2018, international student increased by 15% at all institutions in the province – including independent schools, language schools and K-12 – bring the total to 15,000 according to EduNova.
Post-secondary institutions have been working individually and collectively to highlight key differentiators of study in the province, an EduNova spokesperson said – small class sizes, personalised world-class education with affordable tuition prices and living costs, and warm and welcoming communities.
“This messaging is resonating with students around the world, and after years of relationship development, notable increases of international students have been realised by institutions across Nova Scotia,” the spokesperson added.
“Each year, EduNova member institutions collaborate on market entry strategies, joint marketing campaigns, advocacy work and by bringing key stakeholders to Nova Scotia for personalised experiences at each of the member campuses.”
Along with a personalised approach to recruitment and education, welcoming messaging from provincial and municipal governments [and] high levels of support for international students, immigration opportunities are a key factor for growth, they said.
Similarly, three of New Brunswick’s four institutions saw total enrolments rise.
The University of New Brunswick saw undergraduate enrolments decrease by 2.1%, but its graduate enrolments rose by 61 students – the equivalent of 6.3%.
A spokesperson for the Government of New Brunswick told The PIE that it “recognises the importance of international students to the province’s cultural diversity and economic growth” – reflected in its population growth strategy and accompanying action plan released in August.
“The government is focusing on increasing the number of international students studying in New Brunswick and choosing to live and work here after graduation,” they explained.
“We are currently concentrating on scaling the growth appropriately”
“In partnership with our post-secondary partners, the department has developed targeted initiatives aimed at improving permanent immigration outcomes for international students.
The spokesperson added that several items in the action plan involve supporting projects that connect international students with job opportunities during and after their studies.
“New Brunswick’s post-secondary institutions experienced moderate growth this year after a few years of softening numbers. The Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour sees significant room for growth and will continue to work with those institutions,” they added.