CBIE’s A World of Learning report also showed an increase in students transitioning directly to permanent residence, as well as a 110% rise in the number of post-graduation work permits issued, from 17,815 in 2008 to 37,456 in 2014, thanks to a removal of restrictions on the type of work international graduates can undertake.
“We’re probably one of the most difficult countries for Nigerian students to study in, but they’re the fastest growing group of students who are coming to Canada”
However, in less positive findings, the report notes that study permit processing times are “a source of worry and inconvenience for students and institutions alike”, adding that 9% of the international students it surveyed said that acquiring their Canadian study permit was a “significant hurdle”.
“Lengthy study permit processing times may limit the effectiveness of the federal International Education Strategy as well as recruitment efforts at schools and institutions across Canada, posing a concern to this country’s global competitiveness,” the report adds.
The 18-month wait time for students applying for a study permit in Lagos represents a 73% increase since 2011, contrasting with an overall decrease in processing times over that period.
“We’re probably one of the most difficult countries for Nigerian students to study in, but they’re the fastest growing group of students who are coming to Canada,” CBIE’s research manager and the author of the report, Janine Knight-Grofe, told The PIE News.
“Their study permits approval rates and length of time is just abysmal.”
Overall, this year’s figures have flaunted the downward trend seen since 2011, with offshore processing times for international students up 30% over the last year.
However, processing times do remain lower than they were in 2011, taking an average of 35 days in 2014, down from 40 days.
This year’s hike has been attributed in part to “a lack of coordination between federal departments” by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, according to the report.
The seven-month average processing time in Nigeria – one of Canada’s biggest source markets – is nearly 17 times that of Chile, whose students had an average wait of just 9 days.
There is wide disparity even among the top 15 source markets, the figures show. Students from Pakistan, Vietnam and China also saw lengthy wait times of 79, 61 and 43 days respectively.
In contrast, visa processing for students in India took around three weeks, with those in France taking only 17 days.
Despite the quicker processing times, the number of study permit applications made in India that were approved in 2014 was significantly below average – 17%, compared with 72% overall.
Approval rates have remained stable in recent years, and several countries saw 100% approval rates, including Cyprus, Lesotho, Luxembourg and Monaco.
In contrast, approvals were particularly low across the Middle East and South Asia, with just 8% of study permit applications from Pakistan being approved. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan followed, with 16%, and Turkmenistan, with 17%.
“Lengthy study permit processing times may limit the effectiveness of the federal International Education Strategy”
Looking to future research, Knight-Grofe said that as the country with far and away the longest wait times for study permits, Nigeria poses some questions for CBIE.
“We don’t any information on why that might be,” she said. “It could be simply that there is so many students who are now applying they just can’t deal with the one visa office that they have, or it could be much more complicated.”
The report notes that despite the “explosion” in students coming from Nigeria, such growth is possible to forecast. “It is hoped… that resources to process applications in high volume regions would be efficiently allocated in order to avoid such delays of service,” it adds.
In order to better understand the data, CBIE plans to interview students who responded to the survey “to try and put some stories behind what’s happening”, Knight-Grofe said.
See more topline statistics from the A World of Learning report here.