Survey Finds That Canada is the Most Popular Destination For International Students

International Students Report Being Impressed By How Canada Handled the COVID-19 Pandemic

As Canada slowly begins lifting COVID-19 travel restrictions, data shows that the demand for a Canadian education is surging amongst prospective international students.

This data was gathered through a poll conducted by education consulting firm IDP Connect, which surveyed over 6,000 international students who were either already studying at or were interested in studying at 527 colleges and universities across Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Canada was found to be the most popular, with most respondents indicating that they would prefer to study in Canada or Australia.

The majority of respondents were from India (38%), followed by the Philippines, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nepal, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and China.

Half of the people surveyed indicated that they had been accepted into at least one college or university, or had a pending offer. Meanwhile, 18 percent said that they had already begun their studies, and 20 percent had not yet applied. The remaining 12% had put their education on hold.

Why Canada Is So Popular

So, why is Canada the most desirable country to study in right now? According to an article by Canada Immigration News, one reason could be how well Canada is perceived to have handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

The article reported that a separate survey of international students conducted by Navitas in May 2020 found that students looking to study abroad felt that Canada handled the global pandemic very well. Additionally, many respondents reported that Canada’s concern for the welfare of international students, its policies for international students, and Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) opportunities were reasons they would prefer to study in Canada over other countries.

“Findings from that initial survey showed that Canada’s reputation as a study destination had been enhanced by its government’s handling of the pandemic,” said Jon Chew, head of strategic insights and analytics at Navitas. “At that time, New Zealand, Australia and Canada were leading the pack.”

Navitas conducted the same survey several months later in September 2020, and found that attitudes towards Canada and its handling of the pandemic remained the same. One example of how Canada managed the COVID-19 pandemic concerning international students was allowing students to study online without having to travel, without having to risk losing their study permits, or lose out on the opportunity to obtain a PGWP.

“Globally, many students (43%) are willing to start online if they know they can transfer to face-to-face as soon as campuses open to in-person learning, and a significant proportion plan to defer (31%). But these proportions change – in a positive way – for Canada,” stated IDP Connect on its website.

It’s also interesting to note that 20% of the international student respondents from the IDP survey found obtaining a Canadian study permit to be difficult, which is higher than in any other country. Other hurdles to studying abroad cited by the report included affordability and travel restrictions.