Study: International students largely stay in the province where they received their first study permit


Posted November 25, 2022 8:00 AM EST
Updated Nov 25, 2022 10:43 a.m. EST



A recent analysis of Canadian international students suggests that most of those who receive a study permit in a certain province tend to stay in that province for their next period of study or work.

The Conference Board of Canada is a not-for-profit research organization that focuses on the analysis of economic trends, organizational performance and public policy issues. While there are ways, according to the Conference Board of Canada, that provincial governments can further increase the retention of international students in the province or territory of study, research to date indicates that there is already a degree notable success in achieving this goal.

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Now let’s dive into the key takeaways from this research study.

Place of settlement one year after the expiry of the first study permit

Among students who decided to stay in Canada when their first study permit expired, no less than 60% of students who studied in one or other of Canada’s 10 provinces or three territories are remained in each region.

Quebec had the highest international student retention rate (approximately 85%), while Manitoba and Alberta also had retention rates above 80%. Five provinces recorded retention rates between 70% and 80% (British Columbia, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan). Finally, the other two provinces of Canada (Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick) and the three territories of Canada have all retained between 60% and 70% of their international students one year later.

In the case of the 13 distinct regions, more than 75% of successful international students remained in the province/territory to continue their studies.

Place of work three years after the expiry of the first study permit

Assessed by where international students filed their tax returns from, a conclusion similar to the one above (after one year) held true even three years after their original study permit expired.

In other words, most former international students who were still working in Canada three years later remained in their original province of study. In fact, in nine of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories — excluding the Atlantic provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick — more than 50% of international students remained in the province or territory.

Quebec and Alberta, the provinces that had two of the three highest one-year retention rates, also had the highest three-year retention rates.

Recommendations to further strengthen intra-provincial/territorial retention

The Conference Board of Canada believes that a post-secondary education system that aligns skills development with local labor market needs will promote retention, as would continued strong provincial funding for these institutions, as it would help them continue to provide high quality education to students.

In addition, devoting a greater proportion of Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) slots to international students and improving the support provided by settlement services to these foreign nationals could provide greater incentives for them to stay in provinces where they come to pursue their studies.

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