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Canada continues to build momentum as the most attractive study destination in the world

Muslim woman in a park holding a Canadian flag

Canada continues to be one of the top destinations in the world for international students and its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has further cemented its status as a go-to study destination, according to two recent surveys.

In May 2020, Navitas Insights first surveyed its global network of agents to see how COVID-19 was affecting international study destinations. The survey data showed that Canada’s reputation as a study destination for international students had been buoyed by the government’s handling of the pandemic. At that time, New Zealand, Australia and Canada were leading the pack.

Navitas repeated its research in September to see how agent perceptions had changed as the pandemic continues and what that might mean for international education in the short and medium term.

Canada’s position improved slightly overall; however, it is now competing with the UK, not Australia and New Zealand. Sixty-five percent of agents surveyed said they agree/strongly agree that there has been more interest in Canada as an education destination compared to other countries.

“Canada’s consistent performance is laudable,” wrote Navitas report author Jon Chew. “On the measure of the government’s handling of the coronavirus, Canada is in second place behind New Zealand; likewise, on the measure of being safe and stable. On the measure of being open and welcoming, Canada is second only to the UK.”

The United States continues to lag other Anglophone destinations based on how the pandemic has been handled there.

According to Navitas Insights’ data, before the pandemic international student interest in Australia was starting to wane, Canada was continuing to attract students and while the number of students choosing to study in the USA was weakening, it remained in the top spot.

In 2019, there were approximately six million students studying abroad. Of those, 2.5 million chose to study in the United States, the UK, Canada and Australia.

However, when Navitas surveyed agents in May 2020, just a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, about three in five were able to offer insights into the likely shift in market share with a high degree of confidence. Those agents tended to report a large increase in Canada’s market share and a marked decline in the US.

The report shows that agents predict the US market share to fall from 44% to 37% post-COVID-19. Canada's share will increase from 19% to 21%, while the UK will gain 1% and Australia will lose 1%.


Published on Feb. 24, 2021.