The Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration showed that 125,783 new study permits were issued to international students last year.
Presented by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the report also found there was a 6.4% increase in the number of student applications received in 2015 – to 187,968 – compared with the year before.
“International students spend more than $11.4bn in Canada annually”
“International students bring with them new ideas and cultures that enrich the learning environment within Canadian educational institutions,” the report said.
“They also make a major economic contribution – international students spend more than $11.4bn in Canada annually.”
This figure represents a significant bump from the $8bn annual spend estimated in the 2014 report.
The department minister, John McCallum, said in the report that temporary immigration represents a “significant contribution” to the country’s economy and labour market.
“Canada has always been a popular destination for students, workers and visitors from around the world, and this popularity is growing at a remarkable rate,” he said.
The number of new study permits issued in 2014 increased by 4% from 2013, the previous year’s report announced, showing there was a greater increase last year. However, the growth is slightly lower than in 2012-13, suggesting growth has slowed slightly overall.
Growth in student applications has slowed more noticeably, from an 11.1% rise in 2014 to 6.4% increase in 2015.
Evidence of slowing international student growth was seen in research published by the Illuminate Consulting Group earlier this year. The report showed that the year-on-year rise in new enrolments in 2015 was less less than half the rate reported in 2014 and earlier.
The immigration report last year said IRCC processed over two million temporary resident applications and extensions, added McCallum, which represented “an increase of more than 18% over the previous three years”.
IRCC doesn’t set targets for temporary residents, according to a spokesperson at the department, and study permits are based on demand.
“By limiting the issuing of study permits to students destined only for institutions that have been designated by their provincial/territorial government, students around the globe have some assurance that they are enrolling in a legitimate school that is accountable for meeting certain standards,” she told The PIE News.
The immigration report also outlined that there were 5,829 holders of international study permits who transitioned to permanent residence last year.
“Former international students are also well-placed for success within Express Entry”
According to the IRCC spokesperson, almost a quarter (22%) of those applying through Express Entry (the route to permanent residence in Canada) had Canadian study experience.
“Former international students are also well-placed for success within Express Entry, given the particular attributes of international students including their education, possible Canadian work experience, strong official language skills and youth,” according to the spokesperson.
“A review of Express Entry is underway to see how it can be further improved for potential immigrants, including international students,” she added.
Earlier this year, the Liberal government announced it was taking steps to ease the process of international students becoming permanent residents by repealing a bill passed by the previous government.
“If I were asked what is the stupidest part of [Bill] C-24, I would say revoking the 50% credit for international students,” said McCallum in a speech at the time.
As a result, Bill C-6 reduced the period of residency to three years out of the last five, and restored residency credit for international students.
Last year, there were 271,845 permanent residents admitted to Canada, according to the report.
The target for admissions in 2017 is between 280,000 and 320,000.
The report also acknowledges that Canada welcomed 25,000 Syrian refugees last year.