Nine out of 10 international students say they are satisfied with their decision to study in Canada and eight out of 10 say that both their courses and universities met or exceeded their expectations, according to the 2009 survey of international students by the Canadian Bureau for International Education.
On the less positive side, the report, entitled Canada First, actually found a drop in the share of students who are choosing Canada as their first-choice destination: 53 percent chose Canada as their first choice, down from 59 percent 10 years earlier.
CBIE released the report during its three-day annual conference in Toronto in November. Highlights from various sessions included the following:
- During a daylong forum on Canada-China partnerships, Yang Xinyu of the China Scholarship Council disclosed that her country is still losing a lot of students to other countries through its study-abroad programs. In 2008, some 180,000 postsecondary students left China to study at a college or university in another country, but only 69,300 – less than 40 percent – returned. Ms. Yang outlined new scholarship programs that have tried to stem the brain drain, with relative success: the 2008 figure of returnees was actually 55 percent higher than the numbers from the year before.
- The figure of $6.5-billion was brought up in several sessions and speeches. That’s the approximate amount that international students contributed to the Canadian economy in 2008, according to a study released prior to the conference by Canada’s Minister of International Trade Stockwell Day. The study sparked a sense of optimism among those at the conference, with some seeing it as a sign the federal government is taking international education seriously.
- Chris Greenshields of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said certain federal scholarship programs are not receiving enough applications. A program from Mexico, for example, had only two qualified applicants for 15 available scholarships. The less popular scholarship programs seem to involve study in countries with languages other than French or English. Mr. Greenshields and the CBIE’s Jennifer Humphries said there may need to be a change to eligibility for those scholarships, perhaps allowing for shorter study periods.