In 2022, international students made a significant economic contribution to Canada, spending CDN$37.3 billion on tuition, accommodation, and other expenses. This spending generated a substantial CDN$30.9 billion impact on Canada’s GDP, underscoring the critical role of education exports in the national economy. This report from Global Affairs Canada highlights the importance of international students, whose spending accounted for nearly a quarter of Canada’s service exports and supported over 360,000 jobs. This introduction provides an overview of the economic benefits and trends associated with international student expenditures in Canada.

Key Highlights:

  • A new analysis estimates that international student spending in Canada for 2022 totaled CDN$37.3 billion, covering tuition, accommodation, and discretionary items.
  • This spending resulted in direct and indirect impacts on Canada’s GDP of CDN$30.9 billion.
  • Education exports accounted for nearly a quarter of Canada’s total service exports, making education one of Canada’s top export sectors.

Economic Impact:

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) estimates that international students contributed CDN$30.9 billion (US$23 billion) to Canada’s GDP in 2022. This spending represented over 23% of Canada’s service exports and 1.2% of the country’s overall GDP. Notably, international student spending surpassed the value of many major Canadian exports, such as wood products (CDN$25.7 billion), fertilizers (CDN$17.9 billion), and electrical machinery (CDN$19.2 billion). The total spending was equivalent to about 4.8% of the total value of Canada’s merchandise exports.

Job Creation:

International student spending in 2022 supported an estimated 361,230 jobs in Canada, or 246,310 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions.

Growth in Study Permit Holders:

Over the past two decades, the number of study permit holders in Canada has increased more than sexfoil, with every province and territory experiencing growth. British Columbia (22%) and Quebec (12%) were the next most popular destinations for international students after Ontario (51% of the total). Prince Edward Island saw the highest percentage increase in study permit holders, with growth exceeding 1,800% from 2000 to 2022.

Source Countries:

India was the primary driver of growth, with a 47% increase in study permit holders, reaching 319,130 in 2022. Other significant source countries with strong growth between 2021 and 2022 included:

  • Philippines: +112% (32,455 students)
  • Hong Kong: +73% (13,100 students)
  • Nigeria: +60% (21,660 students)
  • Colombia: +54% (12,440 students)

Long-term Economic Impact:

The GAC analysis attributes 97% of the economic impact to long-term students enrolled in programs lasting six months or more. From 2016 to 2022, international student spending more than doubled from CDN$15.5 billion to CDN$37.3 billion, averaging nearly 16% annual growth. This trend likely continued in 2023, with foreign enrollment in Canada climbing by 29% year-over-year, suggesting that international students’ contribution to Canadian GDP could have approached CDN$40 billion (US$30 billion) in 2023. Click here for full news

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