January 12, 2024

One in Four International Students with Study Permits Do Not Pursue Post-Secondary Education in Canada

In recent years, Canada has witnessed a remarkable surge in its international student population. This influx of students, seeking educational opportunities and diverse cultural experiences, has undoubtedly enriched the country's academic landscape and contributed to its economic growth. However, a recent report by Statistics Canada has brought to light a surprising trend: nearly one in four study permit holders in 2019 did not enroll in a Canadian publicly funded post-secondary educational institution.

A Closer Look at the Numbers

The report, conducted by researchers Youjin Choi and Feng Hou, explores into the activities of non-enrolled international students in Canada, revealing some intriguing insights. In 2019, a total of 717,300 students held Canadian post-secondary study permits. Of these, 172,152 students, representing 24%, did not enroll in post-secondary institutions. This figure highlights a significant gap between the number of international students granted study permits and the number actually pursuing post-secondary education in Canada.

Exploring the Reasons Behind Non-Enrollment

The reasons for non-enrollment among international students are multifaceted. Some students may choose to defer their studies due to personal circumstances or financial constraints. Others may decide to pursue alternative educational pathways, such as language training or vocational programs. Additionally, some students may encounter challenges related to visa processing or academic requirements, preventing them from enrolling immediately.

Engaging in Other Activities

The report also sheds light on the activities that non-enrolled international students engaged in during their stay in Canada. Over half (54.5%) of these students remained in the country and pursued various activities, including:

  1. Employment: A significant portion of non-enrolled students, particularly those holding work permits, secured employment in various sectors of the Canadian economy. This finding suggests that international students play a valuable role in addressing labor shortages in certain industries.
  2. Exploring Educational Alternatives: Some students opted to enroll in privately funded post-secondary institutions or pursue language training programs to enhance their linguistic skills and prepare for future academic endeavors.
  3. Personal Pursuits: Others engaged in personal pursuits, such as travel, volunteering, or cultural exploration, immersing themselves in the Canadian experience.

Impact on Housing and Labor Markets

The influx of non-enrolled international students has had a noticeable impact on Canada's housing and labor markets. As these students are not eligible for on-campus housing, they must compete for housing in the private market, putting additional strain on an already tight supply. This has led to increased competition for rental units and rising housing costs in major urban centers.

On the other hand, the presence of non-enrolled students has helped to alleviate labor shortages in certain industries, particularly those with a high demand for part-time workers. The report indicates that a majority (70.3%) of non-enrolled students who were employed worked in industries with traditionally high turnover rates and a need for part-time workers, such as wholesale and retail trade, accommodation and food services, and business, building, and other support services.

Policy Implications and Considerations

The findings of the Statistics Canada report raise important questions for policymakers. Specifically, the government should consider:

  1. Enhancing Monitoring and Oversight: To ensure that international students comply with the terms of their study permits, stricter measures could be implemented to monitor their enrollment status and address non-compliance.
  2. Addressing Housing Challenges: To alleviate the strain on the housing market, the government could explore strategies to increase the supply of affordable housing options for international students, including expanding on-campus housing facilities and partnering with private providers.
  3. Reviewing Visa Processing and Requirements: To streamline the visa application process and reduce delays, the government could review the current system and consider implementing measures to expedite processing for eligible applicants.
  4. Promoting Academic Integration and Support: To facilitate integration and support for international students, the government could enhance resources and programs that provide academic guidance, cultural orientation, and settlement assistance.


The Statistics Canada study provides valuable insights into the behavior of international students in Canada. The findings raise important questions about the impact of these students on the country's schools, labor force, and broader society. The Canadian government will need to carefully consider these findings as it develops future policies for its international student program.

Pelican Migration Consultants: Your Gateway to a Brighter Future in Canada

At Pelican Migration Consultants, we understand the complexities and uncertainties that often accompany the immigration process. As your trusted partner, we are committed to guiding you through every step of your journey, ensuring a seamless transition to your new life in Canada.

We recognize that your decision to migrate to Canada is not taken lightly. It is a significant step that marks the beginning of an exciting chapter in your life. Our team of experienced immigration consultants in Dubai is here to support you every step of the way, from assessing your eligibility and preparing your application to navigating the intricacies of Canadian immigration laws.

We believe that immigration should be an accessible and empowering experience. That's why we provide personalized and comprehensive guidance, tailored to your specific needs and aspirations. We take pride in our reputation for excellence, having successfully assisted countless individuals and families in achieving their Canadian dreams.