Canadian universities see spike in applicants following US travel ban

Students frightened off by the US and UK's anti-immigration rhetoric are choosing to study in Canada instead

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When it comes to international students, the United States’ loss will likely be Canada’s gain.

Numerous universities and colleges across Canada have already reported a spike in applications from prospective students frightened off by the US’s turbulent political climate, according to Canadian media reports. While previously the UK would have been seen as an equally attractive option for many international students, anti-immigration rhetoric there combined with rules restricting work permits for foreign student graduates have pushed some prospective students to look for greener pastures elsewhere, experts say.

“We have a rising tide of isolationism and exclusion in Europe, in the United States, and people are looking to Canada,” David Turpin, the president of the University of Alberta, told The Globe and Mail earlier this year. The percentage of international students who accepted admission offers at the university were up 27 per cent as of May, according to the newspaper. Other universities, such as Queen’s University in Ontario, reported increases of 40 percent in international student applications.


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Sanjeev Verma, chief executive of the UAE-based education consulting firm Intelligent Partners, said there has been a decline among his student clientele wanting to pursue studies in the UK because of post-graduation work rules that only give non-EU students four months to find permanent work. Whereas, in Ireland, graduates can stay for two years after completing their education.

In Canada, students who graduate from a two-year or four-year programme can work for up to three years.

The number of first-year students from non-European Union countries who studied in the UK dropped from 174,305 in 2014-2015 academic year to 172,190 in 2015-2016, according to the UK's Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The number of first year international students from the Middle East studying in the UK dropped from 14,250 in the 2014-2015 academic year to 13,935 in 2015-2016.

However, the agency's figures also showed that was not reflected in the number of students from the Gulf, which have increased steadily in recent years.

“A lot of expatriates when they go to England to study, they want to stay there to work, and that’s now come to a standstill,” said Mr Verma. “So that avenue for a lot of kids has come to an end.”

Mr Verma said Canada and even countries such as Ireland has become more appealing option for students, he said.

“Ireland is the new kid on the block and they are really being very aggressive,” Mr Verma said of Ireland’s recruitment tactics. “In fact, they now allow students to work for two years after they finish their studies. They are promoting international education very aggressively. They were never an international player in the past, but I think in the next three to five years  -- I won’t say they will be the Top 1 or 2 – but they will start making waves, more people will start recognizing their existence.”