Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective 2015
Chapter C
Access to education, participation and progression

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

C1 International students

Context

This indicator presents international students as a proportion of enrolment in tertiary education in accordance with the three International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) categoriesNote 1, which represent enrolments in colleges and universitiesNote 2. Changes in the number of international students over time are also presented, as well as their distribution by province of study and by region of origin.

Students choose to pursue their education abroad for many reasons. Some may do so because they wish to explore different cultures, societies and languages while improving their employment prospects. Growing recognition of the importance of tertiary education as a determinant of higher earnings and employability has led to a growing demand, one that educational institutions in some countries may find difficult to meet. At the same time, the globalization of markets has increased demand for workers with broader knowledge and competencies, with work increasingly performed by teams that span regions and countries.

Several factors may contribute to the choice of country for study. The language spoken and used in instruction, the quality of education offered, the tuition fees and cost of living, and the immigration policy of the destination country are all important factors. Other factors include recognition of foreign degrees, future jobs opportunities, and any geographical, trade and cultural links between countries.

International students are well received because they represent an additional source of revenue for the institutions they attend. They may also contribute to the viability of programs when the domestic student base is somewhat limited. In Canada, as in other countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), many institutions and governments are now actively marketing their educational programs to attract such students. In addition to the economic benefits they may provide, international and foreign students also add to the social and cultural dimensions of the communities in which they study. They may become future citizens, or they may become unofficial ambassadors when they return home.

Observations

International students in tertiary education

Chart C.1.1 for An International Perspective 2015

Description for Chart C.1.1
Data table for Chart C.1.1
  number
Can. 134,568
N.L. 1,560
P.E.I. 999
N.S. 5,616
N.B. 3,321
Que. 26,598
Ont. 53,319
Man. 3,543
Sask. 2,910
Alta. 11,481
B.C. 25,221
Source(s):
Table C.1.2.
  • In 2012, there were about 134,600 international students studying in Canada. Ontario attracted the largest proportion of international students (40%), followed by Quebec (20%) and British Columbia (19%).

Chart C.1.2 for An International Perspective 2015

Description for Chart C.1.2
Data table for Chart C.1.2
  Short-cycle tertiary Bachelor's or equivalent level Master's or equivalent level Doctoral or equivalent level
B.C. 16.2 62.4 13.2 8.2
Alta. 17.5 47.3 19.5 15.7
Sask. 2.0 56.4 26.9 14.7
Man. 8.3 70.0 13.3 8.3
Ont. 29.6 50.4 12.9 7.1
Que. 6.8 53.6 25.0 14.6
N.B. 2.2 80.3 12.6 4.9
N.S. 2.1 80.4 14.8 2.7
P.E.I. 54.5 42.0 1.6 1.9
N.L. 2.5 57.6 27.1 12.8
Can. 18.4 55.7 16.4 9.5
Source(s):
Table C.1.1.
  • The majority of international students in tertiary education in Canada were registered in Bachelor’s or equivalent level programs. This was true for every province except Prince Edward Island, where short-cycle tertiary programs had the largest share of international students.  
  • The proportion of international students registered at the short-cycle tertiary level (college) varied greatly by province; accounting for as much as half in Prince Edward Island (55%) or a third in Ontario (30%) to only (from 2% in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

Chart C.1.3 for An International Perspective 2015

Description for Chart C.1.3
Data table for Chart C.1.3
  Short-cycle tertiary Bachelor's or equivalent level Master's or equivalent level Doctoral or equivalent level
OECD 5.1 6.2 13.9 23.9
Can. 7.7 7.4 14.7 25.9
N.L. 1.3 5.9 15.8 36.8
P.E.I. 27.3 10.7 6.3 35.2
N.S. 1.9 12.9 14.3 19.8
N.B. 2.0 13.9 21.0 29.4
Que. 2.0 6.9 12.2 25.9
Ont. 10.8 6.3 14.3 19.2
Man. 4.9 6.3 13.3 30.3
Sask. 2.5 6.1 23.7 40.8
Alta. 7.5 5.5 17.2 37.1
B.C. 10.9 12.1 20.2 35.2
Source(s):
Table C.1.1.
  • While the Canada figure for Doctoral or equivalent level programs (26%) is similar to the proportion observed for all OECD countries (24%), across provinces this proportion ranges from 19% in Ontario to 41% in Saskatchewan.
  • The percentage of international students rises with level of study at the university level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral levels), except in Prince Edward Island where the Bachelor’s level has a higher proportion of international students than the Master’s level.

Chart C.1.4 for An International Perspective 2015

Description for Chart C.1.4
Data table for Chart C.1.4
  Africa North America Latin America and the Caribbean Asia Europe Oceania
B.C. 3.8 9.4 4.8 72.4 9.0 0.6
Alta. 7.5 3.5 5.9 76.2 6.4 0.5
Sask. 16.2 2.1 3.5 74.2 3.6 0.4
Man. 19.9 3.8 4.5 67.4 4.1 0.3
Ont. 8.0 3.9 6.4 74.9 6.2 0.6
Que. 19.8 9.9 6.2 23.9 39.4 0.8
N.B. 21.6 3.9 35.1 36.3 3.0 0.1
N.S. 6.8 6.4 10.7 72.6 3.3 0.2
P.E.I. 5.1 11.1 3.3 79.3 1.2 0.0
N.L. 13.5 6.1 5.1 69.9 5.5 0.0
Can. 10.5 6.3 6.8 62.5 13.4 0.6
Note(s):
These proportions were calculated based on students for whom the country of origin was known (the "other" category [not reported origin] was excluded from the calculation).
Source(s):
Table C.1.2.
  • The majority of international students in Canada were from Asia, which accounted for over 60% of international students in every province, except for New Brunswick and Quebec.
  • In New Brunswick, the primary region of origin was Asia (36%) followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (35%), while in Quebec, it was Europe (39%), followed by Asia (24%).

Definitions, sources and methodology

This indicator examines the proportion of international students in the different categories of tertiary education.

International students are those who are pursuing education in a country other than their country of residence or the country in which they were previously educated. In Canada, the concept of “international students” includes non-permanent residentsNote 3, such as those with a study permit. It also includes those enrolled in a Canadian program from a Canadian institution that is not located in Canada (also known as “offshore students”) as well as non-Canadian students studying via the Internet.

Foreign students correspond to a broader concept that includes students who are educated in a country for which they do not hold citizenship. In Canada, the concept of “foreign students” includes all “international students”, plus all students who are landed immigrant/permanent residentsNote 4.

The proportion of enrolment at a given education level by international students is obtained by dividing the number of students who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residentsNote 4 of Canada by the total number of students at that level, and multiplying this ratio by 100. The total number of students includes all individuals educated in Canada, whether they are Canadian citizens, permanent residents or foreign nationals as well as “off-shore students”, but it excludes all Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are educated abroad.

The Canadian data were drawn from Statistics Canada’s Postsecondary Student Information System (PSIS), which covers only public postsecondary institutions. Results for some jurisdictions rely in part on estimates made for non-responding institutions. Due to certain methodological adjustments that have been made to the PSIS collection tool to improve reporting and mapping to ISCED, comparisons of results with those from previous years should not be made.

The OECD data on foreign students and international students reflect the 2012/2013 academic year (2011/2012 for Canada) and are drawn from the UOE collection of statistical data on education, which was carried out by the OECD in 2014. In Canada and other OECD countries, domestic and international students are usually counted on a specific day or period of the year (e.g., the PSIS enrolment data reflect the number of students who were enrolled in courses between September 30 and December 1, 2011, for the academic year 2011/2012). This procedure may not capture the total number of international students as some students may study abroad for less than a full academic year (e.g., those that enter in the winter or spring terms).

Note: The corresponding OECD indicator is C4, Who studies abroad and where?.

Tables for C1 International students

C2 Transitions to the labour market

Context

This indicator focuses on transitions from education to the working world. The percentages of individuals between 15 and 29 years of age who are considered to be “in education” or “not in education” are presented, along with their respective employment situations. Such information can be helpful in understanding how young adults may combine school and work, or how they may transition from one to the other. The “not in education” portion of this population is further examined with a focus on those individuals who are neither employed nor in education (or training), a group sometimes referred to as the “NEET” population.

In Canada and most other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, education policy-makers strive to encourage young people to complete at least their secondary education. As successfully reaching this milestone has become the norm for students in the majority of OECD countries, those who fail to do so will likely have much more difficulty when they enter the labour market, where lacking a high school education is usually an impediment to finding a job.

Recognition of the importance of postsecondary education for economic and social success—both for individuals and society—is widespread. However, the decisions that young people make regarding their education are often influenced by economic conditions.  They may, for example, be inclined to leave school and enter the work force when the labour market is strong, or they may decide to continue with or return to their education when the labour market is weak and it is more difficult to find a job.

The transition from school to work is not always an easy process, and complexity may be added by a combination of factors including personal circumstances, the type and length of schooling received, and the labour market and overall economic conditions that younger people may face. It is also important to find ways to understand how this complexity may affect the NEET group, particularly the youngest members, as teens aged 15 to 19 will have both lower educational attainment and less work experience than young adults in their twenties.

Observations

Young adults in education, not in education

Chart C.2.1.1 for An International Perspective 2015

Description for Chart C.2.1.1
Data table for Chart C.2.1.1
  In education Not in education, employed Not in education, unemployed or not in the labour force
OECD 86.3 6.6 7.2
Can. 83.5 9.5 7.0
N.L. 83.0 5.6 11.4
P.E.I. 87.5 7.6 4.9
N.S. 83.4 9.4 7.1
N.B. 83.8 9.0 7.3
Que. 82.3 9.9 7.8
Ont. 86.0 7.5 6.5
Man. 80.6 12.1 7.3
Sask. 79.1 13.6 7.3
Alta. 79.4 13.9 6.7
B.C. 82.8 10.4 6.8
Notes:
The "not in education, unemployed or not in the labour force" reflects the combination of two categories to capture the "NEET" population; that is, those individuals who are not in employment and not in education (or training).Data for the territories are not presented because some data points are not available.
Source(s):
Table C.2.1 and Table C.2.4.
  • The majority of youth aged 15 to 19 are still pursuing their education.  In Canada in 2014, 84% of young adults aged 15 to 19 were still involved in education, the international average for the OECD countries was 86%.

Chart C.2.1.2 for An International Perspective 2015

Description for Chart C.2.1.2
Data table for Chart C.2.1.2
  In education Not in education, employed Not in education,unemployed or not in the labour force
OECD 45.9 36.2 17.9
Can. 41.0 44.2 14.8
N.L. 36.4 44.6 19.0
P.E.I. 41.0 41.0 17.9
N.S. 37.4 42.0 20.6
N.B. 29.4 53.6 16.9
Que. 44.1 40.5 15.3
Ont. 44.0 40.9 15.2
Man. 34.0 51.6 14.4
Sask. 33.0 56.0 11.0
Alta. 33.8 53.1 13.1
B.C. 39.8 46.6 13.6
Notes:
The "not in education, unemployed or not in the labour force" reflects the combination of two categories to capture the "NEET" population; that is, those individuals who are not in employment and not in education (or training).Data for the territories are not presented because some data points are not available.
Source(s):
Table C.2.1 and Table C.2.4.
  • The proportion of young adults aged 20 to 24 “in education” in Canada was 41% in 2014, compared with the OECD average of 46%.
  • In Canada, 44% of individuals aged 20 to 24 were “not in education” and employed; the corresponding OECD average was 36%.

Chart C.2.1.3 for An International Perspective 2015

Description for Chart C.2.1.3
Chart C.2.1.3
  In education Not in education,employed Not in education,unemployed ornot in the labour force
OECD 16.7 62.8 20.5
Can. 12.4 70.0 17.7
N.L. 13.1 68.0 18.9
P.E.I. 13.1 70.4 16.5
N.S. 14.9 67.8 17.4
N.B. 8.8 69.4 21.8
Que. 15.0 65.1 19.9
Ont. 12.5 70.0 17.5
Man. 11.4 74.2 14.4
Sask. 10.9 76.7 12.4
Alta. 9.7 74.8 15.4
B.C. 11.2 70.4 18.4
Notes:
The "not in education, unemployed or not in the labour force" reflects the combination of two categories to capture the "NEET" population; that is, those individuals who are not in employment and not in education (or training). Data for the territories are not presented because some data points are not available.
Source(s):
Table C.2.1 and Table C.2.4.
  • The recent Canada and OECD figures for individuals aged 25 to 29 who were not in education and employed were 70% and 63%, respectively. Across the provinces, figures ranged from 65% in Quebec to 77% in Saskatchewan.

Neither employed nor in education (NEET)

Chart C.2.2 for An International Perspective 2015

Description for Chart C.2.2
Data table for Chart C.2.2
  15 to 19 20 to 24 25 to 29
OECD 7.2 17.9 20.5
Can. 7.0 14.8 17.7
N.L. 11.4 19.0 18.9
P.E.I. 4.9 17.9 16.5
N.S. 7.1 20.6 17.4
N.B. 7.3 16.9 21.8
Que. 7.8 15.3 19.9
Ont. 6.5 15.2 17.5
Man. 7.3 14.4 14.4
Sask. 7.3 11.0 12.4
Alta. 6.7 13.1 15.4
B.C. 6.8 13.6 18.4
Notes:
The combination of the "unemployed" and the "not in the labour force" portions of the overall "not in education" category captures the "NEET" population; that is, those individuals who are not in employment and not in education (or training). Data for the territories are not available.
Source(s):
Table C.2.4.
  • In 2014, 13% of Canada’s population aged 15 to 29 was neither employed nor in education (Table C.2.4).  This compares with an OECD average of 16%.
  • Canada’s NEET population aged 15 to 19 was similar to the OECD average (7%).  However, the proportions of NEETs in the two older age categories were lower in Canada.
  • Among 25- to 29-year-olds, the NEET population ranged in the provinces from 12% in Saskatchewan to 22% in New-Brunswick.

Not in education, not in employment, by sex

Chart C.2.3 for An International Perspective 2015

Description for Chart C.2.3
Data table for Chart C.2.3
  Males Females
OECD 13.2 17.9
Canada 13.2 13.6
N.L. 18.6 14.5
P.E.I. 15.7 10.3
N.S. 18.0 12.6
N.B. 17.4 13.2
Que. 16.4 12.9
Ont. 13.2 13.3
Man. 10.0 14.4
Sask. 8.8 12.2
Alta. 8.8 15.8
B.C. 12.5 13.7
Y.T. 15.7 11.1
N.W.T. 21.3 16.9
Nvt. 39.2 37.0
Note(s):
The combination of the "unemployed" and the "not in the labour force" portions of the overall "not in education" category captures the "NEET" population; that is, those individuals who are not in employment and not in education (or training).
Source(s):
Table C.2.2.
  • In 2014, the variability in the proportion of 15- to 29-year-old NEETS across the provinces was larger for males, ranging from 9% in Saskatchewan and Alberta to 19% in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Among female NEETS, the variability was less pronounced, ranging from 10% in Prince Edward Island to 16% in Alberta.

Trends for not in education, not in employment population affected by economic downturn

Chart C.2.4 for An International Perspective 2015

Description for Chart C.2.4
Data table for Chart C.2.4
  Canada OECD
2009 13.4 15.4
2010 13.7 16.0
2011 13.4 15.5
2012 13.4 15.0
2013 12.5 15.2
2014 13.4 15.5
Notes:
The combination of the "unemployed" and the "not in the labour force" portions of the overall "not in education" category captures the "NEET" population; that is, those individuals who are not in employment and not in education (or training). Data for 2010 and 2014 are available in Table C.2.4; the supplementary data used to portray this comparison with the OECD were drawn from the Labour Force Survey.
Source(s):
Table C.2.4 and supplementary Labour Force Survey data.
  • The proportion of Canadian youth aged 15 to 29 in the NEET population was consistently smaller than that of the OECD average over the 2009-to-2014 time period.
  • In Canada, the proportion of individuals in the NEET population aged 15 to 29 rose in 2010, subsequently fell in all years up to 2013, and returned to 13% (the proportion in 2009) in 2014.

Employment rates

Chart C.2.5 for An International Perspective 2015

Description for Chart C.2.5
Data table for Chart C.2.5
  percent
OECD 48.1
Can. 57.6
N.L. 32.9
P.E.I. 60.8
N.S. 56.6
N.B. 55.6
Que. 55.9
Ont. 53.6
Man. 62.4
Sask. 65.1
Alta. 67.5
B.C. 60.5
Y.T. 60.7
N.W.T. 52.4
Nvt. 32.1
Note(s):
The employment rate was calculated by dividing the percentage of employed 15- to 19-year-olds who were not in education by the total percentage of 15- to 19-year-olds not in education and multiplying by 100.
Source(s):
Table C.2.1.
  • The employment rate for the 15- to 19-year-olds not in education in Canada (58%) was 10 percentage points higher in 2014 compared with the OECD’s (48 %) average.
  • This percentage ranged widely between the provinces and territories, from 32 % in Nunavut to 68 % in Alberta.

Definitions, sources and methodology

The indicator is calculated using cross-tabulations for the following variables: school attendance, labour force status, sex, age (15 to 29 overall; 15 to 19; 20 to 24; and 25 to 29) and educational attainment (highest level of education attained). Individuals are categorized by their education status (in education or not in education) and their labour force status (employed, unemployed, or not in the labour force). Some historical data are also presented.

The “in education” group captures both full- and part-time students, while “not in education” portrays those who are no longer pursuing a formal education. Employment status is based on International Labour Organization (ILO) guidelines. The employed are defined as those who during the survey reference week: (i)work for pay (employees) or profit (self-employed and unpaid family workers) for at least one hour; or (ii) have a job but are temporarily not at work (through injury, illness, holiday, strike or lock-out, educational or training leave, maternity or parental leave, etc.). The unemployed are defined as individuals who are, during the survey reference week, without work, actively seeking employment and currently available to start work. And not in the labour force captures individuals who are not working and who are not unemployed; i.e., individuals who are not looking for a job.

In addition to those who are employed, the total “not in education” portion of the 15- to 29-year-old population also includes those who are neither employed nor in education (or training). Such individuals are sometimes referred to as the “NEET” population. This captures a somewhat diverse group of young people in a number of possible situations. Some may be part of this group by choice, perhaps taking time off work and/or school to travel or to start families and care for their young children. Some might prefer to be working, but have abandoned the job search temporarily. These people would be seen as “not in the labour force”Note 5 as opposed to those who are seeking work but are unemployed. The group of people who are not in education and are either “unemployed” or “not in the labour force” is a population that could potentially be at risk for economic and social difficulties. While NEETs are seen in all three age groups that make up the overall 15-to-29 population (Chart C.2.1.1, Chart C.2.1.2 and Chart C.2.1.3), the presence of NEETs in the youngest age group (Chart C.2.1.1) is of most concern, given that one would expect that most 15- to 19-year-old youth would be in school, working towards high school graduation.

The data were obtained from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS), and they cover the first quarter or the average of the first three months of the calendar year, which excludes summer employment. The LFS does not collect data on official work-study programmes in which students might participate; in Canada, these would be considered education in the form of a co-op or student intern programme.

Note: The corresponding OECD indicator is C5, Transition from school to work: Where are the 15-29 year-olds?.

Tables for C2 Transitions to the labour market

Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: