Why international students now prefer Canada to the USA

  • young graduates
Published last month

For many years, the USA has remained one of the top destinations worldwide for working and studying abroad. However, the latest statistics show a significant drop in the number of enrollments at American universities (6.6% according to a study conducted by the Institute for International Education) in the past few years. What explains this decline and where are international students now moving to?


Veedushi Bissessur

Editorial Assistant

High tuition fees remain one of the main barriers to studying in the US. To enrol in a public university, count around $ 20,000, and $ 70,000 to join an elite private university – which is a substantial amount! In the past three decades, hence, there was a record tuition fees increase of 213% at public universities and 130% at private universities.

It's worth noting that more than half of international students in the US highly dependent on international scholarships while the rest can rely on their own funds and those of their families. Also, many of them are not even eligible for financial aid provided by American schools and institutions.

University enrollment is also highly competitive, not to mention negative political rhetorics which tends to drive away international students. However, the country continues to welcome over one million students from around the world every year, compared to the UK that attracts only half that number. More precisely, 1,5% more students enrolled in US universities last year.

Today, however, many countries are taking advantage of the financial constraints to enrolling at American universities to attract more international students. Besides lower tuition fees, some of them have set up permanent residency and citizenship programs for international students.

Why Canada is taking over the US

Canada can be described as the new Eldorado for international students. According to the latest figures issued by the Canadian Bureau of International Education, the country is home to nearly half a million international students – which represents a 20% increase. These figures are far beyond Canada's ambitions for 2022. It's worth noting that home to many prestigious universities, Canada is not only a safe and tolerant country but also a vast pool of career prospects in a range of fields.

Besides, tuition fees in Canada remain affordable compared to the United States, for instance, not to mention the various measures set up to attract more students. If you're looking to make some pocket money by working on and off campus during your studies thanks to your study permit, Canada is without any doubt the place to be. Keeping in mind the significant contribution of international students to the national economy, Canada also announced new measures to retain graduates.

In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of permanent residency applications by international students in Canada. From now on, they will also be eligible for a post-graduate work permit allowing them to work anywhere in the country for three years. Moreover, you do not need a prior job offer to apply for this permit. This is probably why more and more Chinese, Indian, South Korean, French and Vietnamese students are moving to Canada to study. In 2018, Canada could boast of an Indian student population of 172,000 including 107,795 new arrivals and 142,000 Chinese students (85,825 enrollments last year only).

Elsewhere in the world

Like Australia, Germany is also among the most popular destinations for international students in spite of the complexity of studying in German. Germany can boast of prestigious universities and excellent higher education. Today, the ageing population and demographic decline are driving the country to rethink its strategy. It's worth noting that more than 10% of international students are enrolling in German universities every year added to the 350,000 students in 2017. A recent report published by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, however, recommends more flexibility in registration procedures for international students. Let's not forget that studying in Germany also opens the door to a thriving economy and a dynamic labour market.