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Canada’s international student population continues to soar

Canada is a top destination for international students. Immigration Minister Marc Miller has shared that Canada is on track to host around 900,000 international students in 2023. However, recent data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) suggests that number may be low.

An internal policy document has revealed forecasting of 1.4 million international student applications by 2027. IRCC forecast the rapid rise in the number of international students in a paper about establishing a class of “trusted” universities and colleges, which would qualify for expedited processing of international student study permits.

The document was obtained by the Globe and Mail, and says that from 2019 to 2022, study permit applications for international students have increased by nearly 300,000 a year.

The IRCC paper also forecasts that the number of international students will reach 949,000 this year and just over a million next year. The number is projected to rise to 1.1 million in 2025, 1.28 million in 2026 and 1.4 million in 2027.

Canadian government issues large number of study permits so far in 2023

An article by ApplyBoard has summarized recent data from IRCC. The data shows that from January to June 2023, the Canadian government issued more than 280,000 new study permits, a 77% increase compared to the same period in 2022.

In addition, in that same time period, the Canadian government processed over 435,000 study permit applications in the first half of the year, which is a 49% increase from the same period in 2022.

In 2022, Canada welcomed a record of 551,405 international students from 184 countries. In addition, as of the end of 2022 there were 807,750 international students holding valid Canadian study permits. Both of these were all time high numbers.

However, with the rate that study permits are being processed and issued this year so far, it is expected that the number of study permits issued will hit a new record with 600,000 permits in 2023.

International student demographic

Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec have been the most popular destinations for incoming students. However, with housing and affordability concerns, more and more students are choosing to study in Canadian provinces that have lower tuition and costs of living.

Between January and June 2023, the new study permits issued by each province has experienced a large amount of growth from the same period in 2022.

For example, the number of new study permits issued in Alberta was 14,536. This is a 139% increase in the number of study permits issued by the province from January to June of 2022.

Similarly, the number of new study permits issued in Saskatchewan was 4,430, an increase of 116% compared to the same period in 2022.

The number of students from Nigeria, Nepal, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea grew significantly this year. Each country has matched or surpassed full year 2022 numbers. If the momentum continues, it is expected that the number of study permits issued to Nigerian students surpasses 40,000 in 2023, making it Canada’s second largest source country for international students.

Looking forward

The data from IRCC shows that Canada’s international student numbers and study permits are in no way slowing down. Moreover, international students are choosing to study in a wider range of provinces and the educational institutions are experiencing diversified student bodies. These trends are expected to continue and should make 2023 a record-breaking year for international students in Canada.

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