Canada International Student Statistics
388,782 International Students
Canada is the world's third-leading destination for international students to get a higher education degree. With more than 388,782 international students in higher education by 2021, the Canadian education system has proven to be of the highest quality. The benefits of studying in Canada as an international student also include the affordability of tuition fees and living costs, along with the popularity of Canadian universities across the world.
There is a difference in international student enrollment between students enrolled in universities and those enrolled in colleges.
- There are currently 388,782 international students enrolled in higher education in Canada.
- Of the total 388,782 international students in Canada, 39.4% (153,360) are enrolled in colleges, and 60.5% (235,419) in universities.
- In the last five years, the number of international students had a significant increase of 69.8%, from 228,924 to 388,782.
- India is the country with the most international students in Canada, totaling 180,275.
- Most international students are interested in BHASE subjects (240,711), whereas 134,664 international students are enrolled in STEM subjects.
Historical International Student Statistics in Canada
The total number of international students in all education levels in Canada is 621,565 (study permit holders), including higher education. However, the number of international students enrolled only in tertiary education in Canada is 388,782.
- Significant growth in the number of international students in Canada occurred in the last decade.
- The number of international students in Canada increased by 173.4% from 2010/11.
- From 2010/11 to 2015/16, international students increased by 61%, from 142,170 to 228,924 students.
- There is a 39.6% difference in international student enrollment between 2015/16 and 2018/19 from 228,924 to 341,964 students.
- International student enrollment in Canada increased by 13.6% in international student enrollment from 2018/19 to 2019/20.
|Year||Total International Students|
International Students in Canada on a Study Permit
International students who wish to study abroad in Canada must get a study permit. Canada requires all international students enrolled in any educational program — that lasts longer than six months — to obtain a study permit. The study permit holder can also work during the study period without a work permit.
- There are currently 621,565 international students, across all study levels, who have study permits in Canada.
- From 2000 until 2021, the number of study permit holders has significantly increased by more than 400%.
- Starting from 2005 to 2015, the number of study permit holders in Canada increased by 106%, from 170,440 to 352,330.
- In 2019, Canada issued 638,280 study permits for international students —the highest number in two decades.
Here is a table showing the change in the number of permit holders in Canada over the years:
|Year||Number of Study Permit Holders|
International Students in Canada by Country of Origin
- India is the first among the top ten origin countries of study permit holders in Canada, with a total of 180,275 international students.
- There are 116,935 Chinese international students that hold study permits in Canada.
- 18,910 international students with a study permit in Canada, come from Vietnam.
- After Vietnam, France ranks fourth in the top ten origin countries with the most international students in Canada, with 18,295 students.
- 18,170 study permit holders in Canada are from the Republic of Korea, followed by Iran with 14,045 international students, US (12,740), Brazil (11,050), Nigeria (10,635), and finally Bangladesh with 7,785 study permit holders.
International Students in Canada by Destination Province
- Ontario is the Canadian province with the highest number of international students (192,906), followed by British Columbia with 70,920 foreign students.
- Quebec ranks third in the top Canadian provinces with the most international students (59,700).
- There are 24,636 international students studying abroad in the Canadian province called Alberta.
- Other Canadian provinces that host international students include Nova Scotia with 12,939 students, Manitoba (10,617), Saskatchewan (6,909), New Brunswick (4,404), Newfoundland and Labrador (3,741), and finally Prince Edward Island with 2,007 international students.
International Students in Canada by University Type
There are two types of universities in Canada: colleges and universities.
Universities in Canada resemble the majority of universities around the world, where they offer different degree level programs, in the academic setting. Whereas colleges offer specific course training, meant for career-oriented students.
- The majority of international students in Canada are enrolled in Universities, a total of 235,419.
- In comparison, there are 153,360 international students enrolled in Colleges.
- From 2015/16, the number of international students in Colleges increased by 154.2%.
On the other hand, the number of international students in Universities increased by 39.6% from 2015/16.
International Students in Canada by Degree Level
- The majority of international students in higher education institutions in Canada are enrolled in a bachelor's degree, a total of 160,842 students.
- There are 45,438 international students enrolled in master’s degree programs in Canada.
- The degree type with the least international students in Canada is the Ph.D. level, with 20,871 students.
Here’s a breakdown by degree level:
|Degree Level||Total International Students|
|Post-secondary non-tertiary education||25,416|
|Short-cycle tertiary education||110,367|
International Students in Canada by Subject Area
Between the two subject areas in Canada —STEM, and BHASE— the majority of international students are interested in BHASE subjects.
- The field of engineering and engineering technology attracts the majority of international students in STEM, a total of 55,608 students.
- On the other hand, the majority of BHASE students are interested in business and administration, with 112,911 students.
- The least popular field for international students is in the legal professions and studies, with only 2,106 students.
- An increase of 216.5% in the number of international students enrollment occurred between 2008/2009 to 2018/19 in the field of business and administration.
- Another significant growth —by 375%— in international student enrollment occurred in the field of mathematics, computer, and information sciences from 2008/09 to 2018/19.
The STEM subjects in Canadian higher education institutions are rather popular among international students.
- The total number of international students in top STEM subjects in Canada is 134,664.
- Engineering and engineering technology is the STEM subject with the highest number of international students in Canada with 55,608 students.
- There are currently 44,427 international students enrolled in the mathematics and computer and information sciences in STEM.
- Science and science technology is ranked third in the top STEM subjects for international students, a total of 34,626.
The various fields of study that fall under the BHASE category include business and administration, arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, trades, services, natural resources, and conservation, as the most popular.
- There are 240,711 international students enrolled in BHASE subjects.
- BHASE subjects include business and administration, one of the most popular for international students in Canada, with 112,911 students.
- The number of international students in arts and humanities is 40,872.
- Social and behavioral sciences are ranked third on the top BHASE subjects, with 38,850 students.
- 27,468 international students are studying in trades, services, natural resources, and conservation.
- Health care is another popular BHASE subject for international students, with 14,994 students in total.
- 3,513 international students are enrolled in the field of education and teaching.
- There are 2,106 international students enrolled in legal professions and studies.
International Students in Canada by Sex
- Of the 388,782 international students enrolled in Canada, 203,853 are male, and 182,799 are female students.
- 87,273 male and 46,623 female international students are enrolled in STEM subjects in Canada.
- There are more female students (18,189) than male students (16,122) in science and science technology.
- In comparison, there is a significant difference in enrollment between male and female students in the field of engineering and engineering technology, with 42,087 male and 13,320 female international students.
- Similarly, there are 29,064 male and 15,114 female students getting a degree in mathematics and computer and information sciences.
- Contrary to STEM subjects, of the total 240,711 international students enrolled in BHASE subjects, 110,727 are male and 128,808 are female.
- Business and administration is the only field in BHASE where there are more male students (58,401) than female students (54,081).
- On the other hand, the female gender dominates in the social and behavioral sciences —13,479 male and 25,137 female students—; as well as in arts and humanities with 17,940 male students and 22,635 female students.
International Student Plans After Graduation
- According to a study conducted by the Canadian Bureau for International Education, the majority (60%) of international students studying abroad in Canada claimed to plans on applying to become permanent residents after graduation.
- Whereas 30% of the respondents were not sure whether they want to continue living in Canada as permanent residents.
During the same study, 49% of the students said that they intend to work in Canada permanently after graduation, and only 3% claimed that they want to work in their home country.