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Canada and Germany lead student retention

Canada and Germany retain the most international students five years after initial admission compared to other OECD countries, as the global competition for talent continues amid ongoing labour shortages. 

Canada and Germany retain the most international students compared to other OECD countries. Photo: Pexels

Nearly all 38 OECD countries have introduced policies to incentivise international students to remain

Over the past decade, nearly all 38 OECD countries have introduced policies to incentivise international students to remain in their country of study but the success of these varies greatly, according to new analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

More than 60% of international students who obtained a study visa in 2015 were still present in Canada and Germany in 2020, while around half remained in Australia, Estonia and New Zealand. In contrast, less than 15% remained in Denmark, Slovenia, Italy and Norway. 

Former international students make up a significant share of foreign workers in OECD countries. Individuals transitioning from study permits accounted for 52% of all admissions for work in France, while, in the US, former study permit holders made up 57% of temporary high-skilled permit recipients. 

“International graduates now account for an above-average proportion of the total immigration of skilled workers”

The new data “paint[s] a very positive picture for our country,” said Joybrato Mukherjee, president of DAAD, Germany’s academic exchange organisation. 

“In an international comparison, Germany thus occupies a leading position in terms of attractiveness for international students. In addition, we can see from the new data that international graduates now account for an above-average proportion of the total immigration of skilled workers.”

International students who remain in their host country post study have long-term employment rates that are on par with those of labour migrants and above those of migrants overall. 

In 2020, there were 4.4 million international students enrolled in the OECD, accounting for 10% of all tertiary students.

The report found that there has been a “strong increase” in international students in nearly all OECD countries over the past decade, with Baltic countries and Slovenia showing the largest growth rate relative to size. 

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