Universities | Foreign students are returning

The efforts of science to recruit international students at the beginning of the pandemic have paid off: According to information from , enrollment has increased again The press with a dozen companies. But behind this success, the students wait a long time in uncertainty for their study permit. To the point that some are considering deferring their registration.

Posted at 5:00 am

Leah Carrier

Leah Carrier
The press

The pandemic has led to a slight decrease in the number of foreign students at several of the universities surveyed The press.

But surprise: From 2021 the registrations will increase again.

So much so that most universities today have a higher number of foreign students than in 2019.

“The decline observed at the beginning of the pandemic was immediately followed by a recovery,” confirms Neko Likongo, director of UQAM’s Department of International and Diplomatic Relations.

By autumn 2020, the number of international students at UQAM had fallen to 3,325 people – almost 900 fewer students than in the previous year.

But the university recovered quickly: at the start of the 2021 academic year, it recruited 4,387 international students, an increase of 32% compared to 2020,” says Mr. Likongo.


At the start of the 2021 academic year, the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) recruited 4,387 overseas students, a 32% increase over the previous year.

Ditto for the rest of Canada, Ottawa processed more than 550,000 study permit applications in 2021, an increase of 152% compared to 2020 and 30% compared to 2019 – unprecedented. And at the current pace, 2022 looks set to break that record.

At the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), the number of foreign students increased by 39% between the school years 2019-2020 and 2021-2022. From the next academic year, the university expects foreign students to make up 30% of the total student body.

The growth that we had in 2021-2022 is also a catch-up for students who have postponed their study project [en raison de la pandémie].

Tanguy Bantas, Director of International Relations at ÉTS

For its part, Bishop’s University is slowly catching up on the decline in international students it has seen over the past two years.

“The number of admissions is increasing [à la rentrée 2022]. Will this lead to an actual registration? Are there students who need to move it again? says Lysange Gervais, coordinator at Bishop’s international office.

Delays persist

Behind this success lies a different reality: students can wait months for their study permits.

Some of them are even considering deferring their registration to a later semester, reports UQAM spokeswoman Jenny Desrochers.

“However, we don’t have a size because the vast majority are waiting at the last minute to carry out the postponement,” she specifies.

At the University of Montreal, we find that the increase in registration applications from French-speaking African countries “is not reflected in later registrations”.

“One might think that some of the students are not enrolling because they were denied a study permit,” says Geneviève O’Meara, spokeswoman for UdeM.


At the University of Montreal, we find that the increase in registration applications from French-speaking African countries “is not reflected in later registrations”.

It should be noted that the institution does not automatically know the reasons why an admitted student does not continue their enrollment and therefore cannot provide accurate statistics on the subject.

“However, our current statistics show that we have to exmatriculate more students from Africa than from other countries such as India, China or Brazil. And this trend has accelerated in recent years,” adds Dr.me O’Meara.

According to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website, the estimated processing time for overseas study permit applications is 12 weeks.

“Growing demand” is putting “increasing pressure on treatment,” according to the ministry’s website.

Recently, UQAM said it had noticed shorter delays in issuing these permits and hoped the situation would continue to improve by next school year, particularly for African students.

Redouble your efforts

In order to recruit so many foreign students during the pandemic, the universities have switched to high gear.

For example: Most institutions have offered distance learning to thousands of students stuck outside the country due to border restrictions.


Amphitheater at Laval University

For the first time, Université Laval hosted virtual open houses, an activity it hopes to repeat in the years to come.

Where I had 25 international students who could physically show up, we’ve grown to thousands of virtual visitors from around the world.

Normand Beaudry, Director of International Recruitment at Université Laval

The University of Quebec at Rimouski has instead relied on advertising campaigns in France and Africa. The strategy seems to have paid off: there were almost 600 foreign students on their campuses last fall, more than in 2019.


The tuition fees paid by international students are 3 to 10 times higher than those of Quebecers.

A bill worth millions

This strong comeback of foreign students is also paying off for the universities. It’s that they pay hefty tuition fees – 3 to 10 times higher than Quebecers⁠⁠1.

As a guide, a foreign student pays $25,462 per year for the ÉTS high school diploma, while it costs $3,533 for a Quebecois. (This excludes French and Belgian students who benefit from special arrangements with Quebec.)

More than the universities, all of Quebec is emerging as a winner from the boom in foreign students, says Pierre Baptiste, acting director of academic affairs and student experience at the Polytechnique.

“Given the demographics we have in Quebec, we need these international students. We don’t have the resources to provide the number of highly qualified people we need,” he says.

In collaboration with William Leclerc, The press

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.