By Claudine Nduwimana

More than half of international students who come to study in Canada are satisfied with their decision to do so while 38 per cent are very satisfied.

Those are the findings of an August survey by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE).

The CBIE survey is a special national data set which provides critical, holistic insights on the international student experience in Canada’s post-secondary institutions, from pre-arrival planning through study and post-study phases.

The 2018 survey was conducted from March to May. There were 92 institutions used to gather information. These institutions are 46 universities, 31 colleges, 12 polytechnic and 3 member institutions across the whole of Canada. CBIE received 14,228 usable responses.

The report shows that:

  • 35% of international students were studying for a bachelor’s degree
  • 22% are taking a masters degree
  • 17% are studying towards attaining a doctoral degree
  • 13% are pursuing a diploma
  • The remainder were enrolled to attain certificates program.

The majority of the students are from East and South Asia Asia (47%), followed by Africa (14%) and Europe (12%).

The survey shows that the most popular degree is engineering (19%), followed by business (18%), social sciences (11), Natural sciences (10%), computer (9%). Agriculture and applied technologies were the least popular with both scoring 1%.

 The study also showed that 60% of the international students indicated their desire to become future Canadian citizens. This is a marked jump from the 51% of respondents who indicated this in 2015. Another 21% said they would like to work on temporary basis in Canada for up to three years, before returning to their home country.

The majority of the international post-secondary students in Canada indicated the opportunity to work during and after their studies was a key driver for deciding to study in Canada. The opportunity to work following their studies was essential 42% while 33% deemed it to be very important. And 87% of the respondents confirmed that their Canadian education had been beneficial for preparing them for employment in Canada.

This year, at the request of the CBIE, students were asked if they had got to know Canada outside the classroom and what they learned about Canadian society and history.

One of the topics raised was Indigenous identity. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and Me’tis Nation and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) helped with this survey. Just over half of the respondents who learned about Indigenous ways and culture said they learned about it in classrooms 54%, followed by media 45%, campus events 36% and local Indigenous organisations 27%.

On a global scale, Canada competes with the U.S., UK, France, Australia and China for international students. Canada’s main competitors are Australia and France.