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Canada “first choice” for 80% of its foreign students

A survey of more than 1,500 college and university international students in Canada shows that 80% of students had only applied to Canadian institutions for study, a jump from 45% last year and around 50-60% every year since 1999.

"More Study Permits were processed for this academic year than last year due to major mitigation efforts by CIC"

Opportunities for permanent residency and post-study work were shown to be the most attractive aspects of Canada as a study destination.

The findings were published in the Canadian Bureau for International Education’s (CBIE) second annual analysis on the state of the sector in Canada, A World of Learning: Canada’s Performance and Potential in International Education, published today.

The report also shows that the six-month Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) strike between April and October did not affect international enrolments for 2013.

“We know that in fact the strike did not have a negative impact on arrivals,” said Jennifer Humphries, a vice president of CBIE.  “In fact more Study Permits were processed for this academic year than last year due to major mitigation efforts by CIC.”

46% of survey respondents intended to stay in Canada compared with 21% in 2012

There were concerns earlier this year that the PAFSO strike would effect international students’ ability to apply for study permits. But, the report states that “CIC was able to implement remedial measures, including shifting electronic applications to visa offices with capacity to manage them, resulting in a relatively normal study permit processing season.”

CBIE says concerns now centre on the impact the media coverage of the event could have in several source countries.

In addition to the strike, sweeping regulation amendments and a change in interpretation of the law dictating which individuals can advise international students also impacted the sector in 2013, with proposed revisions expected to be tabled in parliament before the end of the year.

In May of this year, institutions learned that advising prospective or temporary residents – which includes international students – could only be done by consultants registered with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council and members of the legal profession.

Until then education professionals thought the law did not pertain to supporting students. “The impact of the CIC announcement has been major,” says the report. “Institutions have had to make decisions regarding whether to provide advice to students and, if so, how.”

Other proposed changes in regulation by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) would affect study permits, off-campus work and reporting on student status. A possible rule change threatening co-ops has also been mooted.

“Institutions have had to make decisions regarding whether to provide advice to students and, if so, how”

For example, new rules could mean institutions have to show eligibility to receive study permit holders and those that don’t meet this benchmark would only be able to accept short-term students (studying for up to six months without a study permit). Another adjustment might focus on students needing to prove they are “in status” sooner.

And in potential good news, international students could benefit from a rule change that would mean a study permit holder at a tertiary institution can automatically work off-campus.

Sixty-eight per cent of the 1,500+ respondents to the survey said opportunities for full-time work in Canada following graduation were either very important or essential in their decision to study in Canada.

The number of students planning to apply for permanent residency after studying also increased, with 46% of survey respondents intending to stay in Canada compared with 21% in 2012.

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