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Economic Impact of International Education in Canada – 2016 Update

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Appendix 5 - Reconciliation of the Study Estimates with Valuation by Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada reported that Canada's international student services was valued at $4.971 billion in 2014. [38] In our study, we have estimated that the total annual spending by international students and their visiting families and friends was valued at almost $11.4 billion in the same year. In this appendix, we will reconcile our estimates with Statistics Canada's valuation.

We have been advised that Statistics Canada's valuation of international students in 2014 was based on the number of international students in post-secondary system of 195,000 [39] and their expenditure on tuition, food, accommodation, and transportation for an academic year of eight months. [40]

In RKA's calculation, for estimating the number of post-secondary students in Canada in 2014, we have relied upon values from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's estimate of the "stock" of foreign students as of December 31st of the year.  Total number of students from this source indicates that there were 229,456 students who held a valid student permit pursuing post-secondary training in Canada.  We have derived per-student expenditure (net of Canadian scholarships and bursaries) as follows:

  • Those in college, trades, and Quebec programs: $33,105 per year in 2014, assuming 8 months of study and 12 months of living expenses.
  • Those in university, other university, and in medical residency and internship programs: $33,892 per year in 2014, assuming 8 months of study and 12 months of living expenses.

Therefore, total expenditure was valued at $7.7 billion.

In addition to post-secondary students, we have included students in the K-12 system (with expenditure on tuition and homestay for 10 months), and other students whose level of study was not clear, but who were included in IRCC data.  Total expenditure for these "long-term" students (meaning that they are required by IRCC to hold a valid student permit while they stay in Canada for pursuing study longer than six months in a calendar year) was $10.3 billion.

The last segment of international student population refers to "short-term" students who do not require a student permit to pursuing training generally shorter than six months long.  These students would include those pursuing language training, or other short term vocational training.  For practical reasons, we have only obtained data from Languages Canada and therefore have valued expenditure from this source.  For these 107,451 students who studied for up to 26 weeks in 2014, total number of student weeks was estimated at 1,080,903, and total expenditure at $899.7 million.

In addition to student expenditure related to tuition and fees as well as living expenses, we have estimated spending by visiting families and friends for these international students.  The value of spending attributed to visiting families and friends was estimated at $163.7 million.

Combining spending from long-term and short-term students, as well as their visiting families and friends, yields a total expenditure value of $11.372 billion in our estimate.

[38] Statistics Canada CANSIM table 376-0031.

[39] International students in Canada from Statistics Canada CANSIM table 477-0019.

[40] Statistics Canada plans to review the students’ expenditure data along with the other variables for the travel and education sectors, taking into account the available studies, surveys, and methodologies.


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