Canada is now the world’s third-leading destination of international students, with a staggering 642,000 foreign students.

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data, Canada’s international student population grew by 13 per cent in 2019 compared to the previous year, marking yet another year of double-digit growth. Overall, 404,000 international students saw their study permits take effect in 2019.

Canada’s international student population has grown six-fold over the past 20 years. In the last decade alone, it has tripled.

Canada’s growth is being fueled by the rise in the global middle-class population, with more students looking to pursue educational, and in some cases, immigration opportunities overseas. According to UNESCO, there are now over five million international students globally, compared with around two million in 2000.

Here at home, Canadian colleges and universities have been left with little choice but to recruit more international students in order to sustain themselves financially. Growth among the main cohort of Canadian-born students entering colleges and universities (individuals between the ages of 18-24) has stagnated over the last decade due to Canada’s low birth rate.

While Canada’s population has grown by 11 per cent over the past decade, the 18-24 cohort has only grown by 4 per cent. As such, Canadian institutions need revenues from international students to fund their rising operating expenses.

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