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Economic Impact of International Education in Canada - An Update

1. Introduction

As Canada’s economy becomes increasingly globalized, the benefits of international education to our economy are substantial and cannot be neglected.  To remain competitive in the global economy, Canada needs to attract the best and the brightest to contribute to our talent pool in so many areas – scientific and research development, economic development opportunities, cultural diversification, just to name a few.  International students studying in Canada also bring in substantial income to the local communities.  International students can also become a valuable source of highly skilled labour to our economy at a time when the western world is facing potential labour shortages especially among top talent.  In addition, Canada’s educational expertise is a valuable export that can be measured in comparison to other goods and service exports.

Roslyn Kunin and Associates, Inc. (RKA) was commissioned by the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) to undertake an in-depth and comprehensive study evaluating the economic impact of international education in Canada in 2009.  Its purpose was to develop, implement, and analyze an economic model to determine the value of international education and student mobility to the Canadian economy.  The current study is an update of the 2009 estimates with more up-to-date data and information, as well as more fine-tuning of our estimation approach.
Existing literature has clearly indicated that there is positive value associated with Canadian students going abroad and international students coming and studying in Canada. RKA has been commissioned to look at the latter and to assess the financial value by way of looking into the trends in international students’ enrolment patterns, the length of study, the type of educational institutions they attend, their choice of place to stay while they are in Canada, and their expenditure patterns.

Our research has:

  • Covered all provinces and territories in Canada where international student enrollment data is available;
  • Collected and reviewed, where possible, data and information regarding enrollment in K-12, post-secondary (both colleges and universities, both public and private), as well as short term studies in language training;
  • Contacted stakeholders to obtain information regarding tuition and fees that international students pay for the types of programs in which they enroll, from jurisdictions across Canada;
  • Located and analyzed information on international student expenditure patterns.

The data has been analyzed and estimates have been calculated. The values have also been measured as a contribution to the Canadian economy in terms of GDP growth, employment, and government revenue.

The layout of the report is as follows:

  • Study methodology
  • Literature review
  • International student data
  • Expenditure data
  • Economic impact estimation for 2010
  • Examination of the economic contributions of “tourism activities”
  • Examination of Canada’s performance in the global market
  • Conclusions and Recommendations
  • A reconciliation of our estimates with Statistics Canada valutations
  • Sensitivity analysis

In sections where we present more up-to-date data, we will also provide comparisons with our findings in the previous study in 2009.

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Date Modified:
2013-12-30