President's Blog

America’s loss of international students is Canada’s gain

With Kirk Heffelmire

As American universities face a softening of international student demand, Canadian universities are reporting significant increases in undergraduate applications from abroad over the past year. This is obviously not good news for us.

As reported here recently, there has been a relative decline in the U.S. share of international students over the past 15 years, and there is early evidence of interest declining further over the past year.

Canada’s University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, and McMaster University all reported more than 20 percent growth in international application volume. This comes after many years of growth resulting in a doubling of international students enrolled in Canada over the past decade.

Business students from India also have recently shown greater interest in Canadian universities instead of the U.S. and United Kingdom universities they had favored. Even U.S. students are showing greater interest in studying in Canada.

Universities and colleges are the main gateway to attract the world’s best talent to the United States. As I wrote recently in The Washington Post, open borders are crucial for innovation. We need international students for many reasons. We should ensure student visas remain accessible and ease the transition from graduation to U.S. employment.

Canada has taken efforts to help students stay in that country after graduation. It recently changed immigration policy to favor those who graduate from Canadian universities. Canadian visas also allow MBA students to stay in the country and work for three years after graduation whether or not they were working at the time of graduation.

The United States could learn a lot from Canada. In the meantime, our northern neighbor will continue to attract more of the brightest students from around the world and gain an advantage in talent and innovation.