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Facts and Figures


Canada is a country of over 36 million people and Statistics Canada (2017) reports that 41 % of our population is under 35 years of age, with 29% of those under 35 being in the age range of 15-24 - that is, 4.95 million people. Of these, more than two thirds are in the provinces of Ontario, Québec and British Columbia.

Canadian Higher Education:

There are 96 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities and university-degree level colleges in Canada, plus about 80 community colleges. Education is regionalized, with each province having its own Ministry of Education. With high enrolment and some programs lacking space – in particular at the graduate level – Canadians are looking beyond their provincial and country borders for options.

Canadian Post-Secondary Enrollment:

Enrollment figures for 2015/2016 in Canadian universities was 1.3 million students, and in colleges it was 727,000. (source: Statistics Canada)

Program types with the largest enrollment at universities were, in descending order: Social and Behavioural Sciences and Law; Business, Management and Public Administration; Humanities; Health, Parks, Recreation and Fitness; Physical and Life Sciences and Technologies; and Architecture, Engineering and Related Technologies.

At colleges (including transfer programs) the top enrollment was seen in the following areas: Humanities; Business, Management and Public Administration; Health, Parks, Recreation and Fitness; Architecture, Engineering and Related Technologies; Social and Behavioural Sciences and Law; and Visual and Performing Arts and Communications Technologies.

Fields of Study:

Unlike some other markets, Canadian students are looking for a broad selection of programs, not just the ‘big three.’ The following areas of study at universities and colleges in Canada are the most sought after:

  • Social and behavioural sciences and law
  • Business, management and public administration
  • Humanities
  • Health, parks, recreation and fitness
  • Physical and life sciences and technologies
  • Architecture, engineering and related technologies
  • Education
  • Visual and performing arts and communications technologies
  • Mathematics, computer and information sciences
  • Agriculture, natural resources and conservation

Student Mobility:

IIE's Open Doors 2017 Report tells us that Canada is still the fifth largest source country of international students going to the US, with some 27,000 Canadian student enrolled in US universities in the 2016/2017 academic year. With these high numbers, American universities and colleges are well advised to direct their focus to this market.

As well, Canadian students are in the top 10 of international students in UK universities (almost 8,000 students), and about 4,700 Canadians were studying in Australian universities in the past year. Other popular destinations are New Zealand, Italy, Spain, France, Singapore and Japan, to name a few.

More and more high schools and universities in Canada are encouraging studying overseas and education consulting is becoming increasingly popular across the country. Universities Canada has called for a doubling in the number of undergraduates taking study-abroad programs, to 50,000 a year from the current 25,000. (Graduate students are estimated to make up another 15,000 participants a year.). And this does not include the numbers of fee-paying students going abroad for whole degree programs.

In addition to university studies, Canadians are going abroad to volunteer, learn a second – or third – language, and are looking for gap year/career break experiences.