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Economic Impact of International Education in Canada

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada - Roslyn Kunin & Associates, Inc., July 2009

The promotion of Canada as a study destination and the recruitment of international students to study at Canadian universities and colleges is a priority of the Government as was recognized by the Advantage Canada Strategy document and the 2008 Speech from the Throne.

To validate the importance of international students to Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada commissioned a report measuring the economic value of the presence of international students in Canada.

The report was released on Wednesday, October 28 by the Minister of International Trade, the Hon. Stockwell Day, in a speech to the presidents of Canada’s 94 universities at the fall membership meeting of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. Consult the news release of this event.

The report estimates that total expenditures by international students while they study here (tuition, accommodation, living costs, travel and discretionary products and services) resulted in a $6.5 billion infusion to the Canadian economy in 2008. Expenditures of international education students have now surpassed exports of coniferous lumber ($5.1 billion) and coal ($6.1 billion). (Note that this amount does not include exports of education services, which were not part of the scope of the study).

The report also finds that these international students generated about $291 million in government revenue in 2008 and created economic activity that sustained employment for 83 000 Canadians.

This report will be an important tool to demonstrate the importance of this sector, which is little-known and under appreciated by a large number of economic commentators. The growth in the numbers of international students in Canadian institutions in recent years (7% growth between 2007 and 2008) was in large part caused by the work of Trade Commissioners in priority markets and demonstrates that promotion efforts, led by the creation of the new Education Brand for Canada and funded by monies obtained in Budget 2007-08 for the Edu-Canada Initiative, are showing results.

ARCHIVED - Economic Impact of International Education in Canada report (PDF, 399 KB)*


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Date Modified:
2013-01-25