Nigeria logs biggest growth as diversification of int’l student population sweeps Canadian universities

In the first half of 2023, Nigerians became Canada’s fastest-growing international student group, experiencing a 44 percent surge in study permits issued, surpassing the total for all of 2022.

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Canada’s university programs are experiencing a significant diversification in the international student population, according to a recent report by Apply Board, a leading online platform for international student recruitment.

In the first half of 2023, Nigerians became Canada’s fastest-growing international student group, experiencing a 44 percent surge in study permits issued, surpassing the total for all of 2022, as reported by CIC News.

Around 18,000 study permits were granted to Nigerian students, outpacing all other countries except India.

Shifting dynamics in Indian student population

While Indian students continue to hold the highest number of study permits in Canada, the trend is declining. Between July and October 2022, the Canadian government processed nearly 146,000 study permit applications for Indian students. 

In contrast, this number plummeted to fewer than 87,000 during the same period in 2023, marking a significant 40 percent decrease.

The report also showed a substantial proportion of both Indian and non-Indian students are gravitating towards postgraduate business courses, constituting half of all study permits issued to postgraduate Indian students by September 2023. 

Business programs have consistently increased their share of study permits, reaching 36 percent by September last year, indicating a 15 percent rise since 2016.

Surge in business, health and general science, IT programs

Diversity in health and general science programs has surged by 51 percent at the undergraduate level through September last year compared to 2019. 

Nigeria emerged as a key driver, with a 430 percent growth in study permits for this field. 

Additionally, Ghana is making strides, witnessing a doubling of students in health and general science programs compared to 2022 and a 660 percent increase over 2019.

The pursuit of computing and IT programs by international students has witnessed an impressive 110 percent growth at the undergraduate level through September last year compared to 2019. 

While India dominates with 30.5 percent of student visas, Nigeria, Algeria, Guinea, and Nepal are actively contributing to the rising popularity of these programs.

Engineering programs on the rise

Engineering programs in Canada have seen a 32 percent growth at the undergraduate level through September 2023 compared to 2019. African students, particularly from Algeria, are playing a crucial role in this expansion, constituting a significant portion of the top 10 and top 20 undergraduate engineering students.

At the postgraduate level, engineering has grown by 41 percent through September 2023 compared to 2019, with emerging student populations from Algeria, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Ghana more than doubling over this period. 

The report suggested that Algeria could emerge as a key source of engineering students for Canadian universities.

Canada’s int’l student population

Canada has achieved a milestone in its international education landscape, officially surpassing one million international students as of December last year, according to data released by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The provinces with the highest concentrations of international students are Ontario, leading with 526,015, followed by British Columbia with 202,565, and Quebec with 117,925. These provinces also house the majority of Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs).

The surge was attributed to the permissive DLI model in specific provinces and emphasized the need for collaboration between provincial governments and DLIs to effectively manage the escalating numbers.

Canada hosted 807,260 international students in 2022, and by September 2023, the number holding valid Canadian study permits exceeded expectations, reaching 1,015,744.

The rapid growth in the international student population has raised concerns within policy circles, prompting discussions on the implementation of a cap on study permits for international students. 

Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos has been a professional journalist for five years now. She has contributed and covered stories for premier Philippine dailies and publications, and has traveled to different parts of the country to capture and tell the most significant stories happening.

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Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos has been a professional journalist for five years now. She has contributed and covered stories for premier Philippine dailies and publications, and has traveled to different parts of the country to capture and tell the most significant stories happening.

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