CBIE research highlights record growth of international students in Canada

The Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) published a Research in Brief recently on the record-breaking numbers of international students in Canada in 2017. CBIE’s research, using both open and obtained data, highlights key trends with regards to level of study, province or territory of study, and country of citizenship of international students. Last year, 494,525 international students came to Canada, surpassing the Government of Canada’s goal of receiving 450,000 international students by 2022 five years early.

Key highlights

International student mobility:

  • In 2017, there was a 17 percent increase of international students in Canada at all levels of study from the previous year, and a 34 percent increase between 2014 and 2017.
  • The US and the UK remain Canada’s top two competitors.
  • For the first time, Canada leapt ahead of both Australia and France for total market share.

Citizenship of international students:

  • Canada has one of the most diverse international student populations with 186 countries represented.
  • However, diversity has declined in recent years with 65 percent of all international students coming from the top five countries of citizenship: China, India, South Korea, France, and Vietnam.
  • Of the top 15 countries of citizenship, Vietnam has almost doubled in just one year from 7,470 to 14,095 students in Canada.

Level of study:

  • In 2017, 75 percent of international students in Canada were pursuing post-secondary studies.
  • Of those, 57 percent were studying at a university, 41 percent were studying in a college program, and two percent in CEGEP.
  • Students at the primary and secondary levels made up 15 percent of all international students in Canada.


  • Eighty-four percent of international students were enrolled in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec.
  • Throughout 2017, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal hosted 55 percent of all international students.
  • The most marked growth outside of these cities was in Windsor, Kitchener–Cambridge– Waterloo, and St. Catherines–Niagara.

To read the Canadian Bureau for International Education’s Research in Brief in full, click here.