Canada Study Permits: 2018 Figures


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada statistics show that 404,165 individuals received Canada study permits in 2019. This is an increase of almost 50,000 on the previous year. In 2018, 355,100 new study permits were issued.

Total figures for the 2019 student population are yet available. However, this new data indicates that the entire international student population in Canada now exceeds 600,000, according to one analyst.

Canada Study permits distribution among peoples

The statistics reveal that 139,740 Indian students received study permits in 2019. Up from 107,175 in 2018 – and Indian citizens represent 35% of all 2019 new study permits.

The second biggest cohort came from China with 84,710 permits, marking a decrease on 2018 figures; only 85,165 Chinese students got study permits.

Iran (+39% to 9,795), Nigeria (+16% to 7,585), France (+9% to 14,670). They all showed increases of study permits becoming effective in 2019, compared with 2018.

Other countries represented in the top 10 such as South Korea, Brazil. The US and Japan have remained stable, while Vietnam decreased slightly on 2018 figures.

Rounding off the top 15, the Philippines, Mexico, Bangladesh, Colombia and Taiwan all saw increases. And new study permits for the Philippines notably increasing by 56% to a total of 6,365 in 2019.

In 2018, just 40% of active study permits in Canada were for university study; the rest for students at colleges, Quebec’s CEGEPs or at K-12 schools, Universities Canada highlighted.

Although the 2019 breakdown is not yet available, the organisation expects a similar division.

The assistant director of International Relations at Universities Canada explained that these new numbers reflect the system as a whole; rather than just university enrolments, Canadian universities see continued growth in the number of students.

“Canada’s universities are always happy to see growth in enrolment of international students, but diversification of source countries is absolutely a priority in their internationalisation efforts.

“It’s also a priority for the Canadian government, who have introduced more funding to help diversify the source countries for international students in their recent International Education Strategy.”

Released in August 2019, one of the strategy’s objectives is to diversify source countries of inbound students.

Major cities continue to attract international talent

The latest statistics indicate that provinces with major cities are continuing to be attractive to international students.

Ontario, including Toronto and Ottawa, remains the most popular province for students gaining new study permits with a total of 198,570 in 2019.

“Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have long been the highest receivers of international students, so this data is not surprising,” McIntyre explained.

Vice president of Partnerships at Camosun College in Victoria British Columbia noted that the province has “seen steady international student growth”. This was possible mainly due to coordinated efforts led by the British Columbia Centre for International Education.

“A factor that makes BC a strong destination of choice is our completely integrated credit transfer system which allows students to transfer from one institution to another almost seamlessly,” said vice president

“It is unique in the world and means that colleges, in particular, can promote degree programs in which they may only offer the first two years.”

Regarding diversifying the international student population, Camosun has seen strong results from countries such as Vietnam and Mexico, Wilmshurst identified.

“We are also making efforts to recruit students from countries that have not been traditional for Canada. For example, the Philippines, which has been a strong immigration source country but not one that we have traditionally had many students,” he added.

“There are always concerns when one source market dominates the marketplace.”

A great deal of capacity exists in Canada’s higher education system. However, it exists outside of the major population centres and in more rural settings.

“The challenge for Canada, in the long run, will be attracting students to these locations. Given that the quality of our education system is quite even across Canada international students would benefit from looking at these options.”