A new report has highlighted the extent to which public universities in Canada remain dependent on international students for growth. The report by Statistics Canada has found that over a 10 year period, international enrolment in formal programs have tripled while Canadian student enrolment increased at a slower pace. In 2018/2019 alone, increases in student enrolment in Canadian public universities and colleges were driven solely by international students.
Canadian student enrolment in formal programs increased by 10.9% throughout a 10 year period while international student growth represented 57.2% of growth in all program enrolments.
“Previous analysis has shown that the reliance of universities on tuition as a revenue source has grown over the past decade and that international students, who pay substantially higher tuition than domestic students, are an important element of this growth, contributing an estimated 40% of all tuition fees and accounting for almost $4 billion in annual revenue for Canadian universities in 2018/2019,” the report by Statistics Canada finds.
Two thirds of international students originate from China and about a quarter originate from India. International students in Canada originate from approximately 225 countries. Most international students enrol in Business and management.
The report comes after Statistics Canada found that universities face up to $3.4 billion in losses due to COVID-19. Most of the losses are attributed to border restrictions for international students.
The report also finds a substantial decrease in the humanities while STEM fields such as Business, management, mathematics and computer science are increasing. Statistics Canada believes that this is a reflection of changing labour market demands. Previous surveys saw respondents with arts or humanities degrees express that they were “overqualified” for their occupation.
The increasing enrolment of mathematics and computer science may represent the increasing “digitization” of the community.
“[The increasing enrolment of mathematics and computer science] reflects the increased digitalization of society in general where, according to a recent study, jobs associated with the digital economy (+37.0%) grew much more than the total economy (+8.6%) from 2010 to 2017,” Statistics Canada reports.