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Study: Differences in the location of study of university-educated immigrants, 2011

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Released: 2015-09-15

In 2011, three-quarters of immigrants aged 25 to 64 with a university degree obtained their highest degree outside of Canada, while one-quarter earned their highest degree in Canada. These proportions, however, were not the same for all immigrant groups.

These findings are based on a new article released today, titled "Differences in the location of study of university-educated immigrants."

There were 1.3 million immigrants aged 25 to 64 with a university degree in Canada in 2011. Examining the location of study of these immigrants is important as it often has implications on their labour market outcomes.

University-educated immigrants who entered Canada in 2000 or later accounted for nearly 60% of all university-educated immigrants.

Within this most recent cohort of university-educated immigrants, 83% had a degree from outside Canada, most often from their country of birth.

Recent immigrants often face labour market challenges; therefore immigrants who arrived in 2000 or later (that is, until survey collection in 2011) are the focus of this study.

Location of study differs across source countries

Of the nearly 750,000 university-educated immigrants who arrived in Canada in 2000 or later, 108,000 came from China, the largest source country of university-educated immigrants during this time.

About 76% of university-educated immigrants from China had a degree from outside Canada. This compared with an overall average of 83% for all immigrants who arrived in 2000 or later.

Other major source countries in the 2000s included India, which was the source country for 98,000 university-educated immigrants, and the Philippines, with 79,000 immigrants with degrees.

University-educated immigrants from India and the Philippines were more likely to have a degree from outside Canada. This was the case of 90% of those from India and 96% of those from the Philippines.

Location of study is related to the immigrant's linguistic profile

The location of study profile of immigrants who arrived in 2000 or later was also split along linguistic lines.

Among those who did not have English or French as their mother tongue—representing about 8 in 10 immigrants who arrived in the 2000s—84% had a degree from outside Canada while 16% had a Canadian degree.

Among university-educated immigrants who reported English as mother tongue, a slightly higher proportion had a Canadian degree (17%).

In contrast, about 29% of those who reported French as their mother tongue obtained their highest degree in Canada—most of the time in Quebec (24%).

Immigrants from countries with a large French-speaking population were more likely to study in Quebec versus other provinces.

For example, 23% of recent immigrants from France and 13% of recent immigrants from Algeria obtained their degree in Quebec, while few immigrants from these two countries (less than 3%) had a degree from another province within Canada.

Other factors also matter in the location of study

The paper also discusses differences in the location of study of recent immigrants across other characteristics that are available in the data. These characteristics include gender, field of study, type of degree and age at immigration.

The results indicate that male immigrants, as well as immigrants with a master's degree or higher, immigrants who studied in business, management and public administration, or in math and computers, and immigrants who arrived at a younger age were all more likely to have a Canadian degree.

Taking these differences into account in a multivariate model, however, did not remove key differences in the location of study profile of different source countries.

  Note to readers

This study uses data from the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS). The NHS benefits from a large sample size and the inclusion of a location of study variable for those with a postsecondary degree or diploma. The NHS was distributed to about 30% of (or about 4.5 million) Canadian households.

For the purposes of this study, only respondents with the following criteria were included: (1) respondents with a bachelor's degree or higher, (2) respondents who immigrated to Canada at age 17 or older, and (3) respondents aged 25 to 64. The sample excludes non-permanent residents, and represented 1,261,830 immigrants living in Canada in 2011.

Three immigration periods are examined in this analysis: those who arrived in Canada between 2000 and 2011 (also called "recent immigrants"), those who arrived between 1990 and 1999, and those who arrived before 1990. This paper puts more emphasis on immigrants who arrived in 2000 or later because studies indicate that more recent cohorts of immigrants typically face labour market challenges.


The article "Differences in the location of study of university-educated immigrants," which is part of Insights on Canadian Society (Catalogue number75-006-X), is now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Darcy Hango (613-513-8848;, Labour Statistics Division.

For more information on Insights on Canadian Society, contact Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté (613-951-0803;, Labour Statistics Division.

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