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International students in Canada complete master’s earlier than domestic students: study

Canada has proven itself to be a popular destination for foreign students, especially for postgraduate programmes. A recent Statistics Canada study found that international students in Canada are more likely to complete their master’s programme earlier than domestic students.

They found that 65%of international master’s degree students who started their programme in 2013 had graduated within two years, compared with 58% of their Canadian counterparts. It also found 87% of international and 83% Canadian master’s students had graduated within four years of starting the programme.

Various factors could be attributed to this, including educational qualifications or qualifying programmes started or completed outside Canada before attending a Canadian university. “International graduate students may also be more likely to complete their studies in less time because of their higher tuition fees, the costs of living away from home and the terms of their study permits,” said the report. 

In 2013, international students in graduate programmes paid an average of 13,490 Canadian dollars for tuition, more than double what Canadian students paid (CA$6,038). A recently published research article found that Canadian students may also take longer to complete their studies as they’re more likely to combine school and work and to study part-time at the master’s level. 

Canada postgraduate programmes popular among international students


Statistics Canada also found that from 2011 to 2016, enrolments of international students in a master’s programme rose more than four times faster than those of Canadian students. They found that just over 43,000 students entered a master’s degree programme at a Canadian university in 2016. Over one-quarter (12,195) were international students, and 30,873 were Canadian students. The number of new entrants to master’s programmes rose 51% from 2011 among international students, and 11% among Canadian students.

Other notable findings include the higher proportion of women enrolled in Canadian universities increasing over the past few years. Data showed that among international students, men were more likely to enrol in master’s programmes. Women (60%) accounted for the majority of new entrants to a master’s degree programme among Canadian students in 2016. In contrast, only 46% of new international master’s students were women.

International students also overwhelmingly take up STEM and BHASE master’s programmes  that of new Canadian entrants. “From 2011 to 2016, for example, enrolments of new international students entering a STEM master’s programme in Canada rose four times faster than those of their Canadian counterparts (+56% versus +14%) — almost five times faster in BHASE programmes (+47% versus +10%),” said the report.

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