Post-Pandemic Rebound for International Students Will Benefit Canada

Though pandemic shutdowns played havoc with international students’ schedules, as well as their aspirations for educational goals, early reports from various sources around the globe clearly show rebounds are already happening as demand for overseas schooling remains robust going into the future.

One report from a Singapore-based* education technology company reveals that 60 per cent of high school students surveyed in 100 countries insisted that the coronavirus pandemic had no impact on their ultimate educational aims even though 76 per cent said they were concerned about missing out on their student lifestyle experience, and 58 per cent were questioning the value of paying heavy fees for online experiences. (*Source: Cialfo.)

This portends good news for Canadian and American colleges and universities, which suffered serious dips in enrollments (-17 % for Canada and -16% for the US**) during the pandemic. Of the more than 5 million students enrolled globally in colleges and universities outside their own country (pre-pandemic), approximately 40 per cent are located in four countries (Canada, US, UK, and Australia). And more than 50 per cent of international students in Canadian schools are from India and China. Overall, approximately 24 per cent of Canada’s higher education students are international students. (**Source: IRCC for Canadian figures, Institute of International Education for US.)

Of the 530,540*** international students in Canada in 2020 (down from 642,480 in 2019,*** pre-pandemic), 46 per cent are enrolled in Ontario, 22 per cent in British Columbia, and 15 per cent in Quebec. (***Source: Canadian Bureau for International Education.)

Health insurance a plus for Canadian recruiters

Though all international students are required to obtain health insurance for study in Canada, the choices are much more amenable than they would be in the US, where costs are considerably higher (for instance, $5800 USD per school year at Stanford; $3535 USD at Duke in North Carolina; $3266 USD at Ohio State). In Canada, health insurance requirements vary from province to province so overseas students need to do some additional homework to get specific details regarding their school choice.  

Some provinces (primarily in Western Canada) allow foreign students to access their provincial health care system (some for free, while others charge a modest premium). In Ontario, students have access to a special university plan for colleges and universities called UHIP ($63 monthly for single applicants) that offers services relatively equal to OHIP. But UHIP doesn’t cover drugs (prescribed or over the counter), eyecare, routine dental work, tests for immigration purposes, or many non-medical or elective services. Those with UHIP are recommended to secure supplementary insurance.

Quebec-bound students from certain European nations (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Romania, and Sweden) may be eligible for free coverage due to bilateral agreements between Quebec and these specific countries. Others must enroll in a special student group plan for which they have to pay.

As a personal note from an old Montrealer, I point out that in 2017, Montreal was chosen as the World’s Best City for Students, beating out Paris, London, and Berlin for its diversity, affordability, and (as students perceived) “multicultural makeup and inclusive ethos,” as well as its laidback yet lively lifestyle, attractive boulevards, thriving creative industries, café culture, eclectic range of arts venues and nightlife. The survey was done by QS, the universally recognized higher education ranking system. Toronto that year was voted # 11.

All students, however, are urged to also consider supplemental private insurance for the many items not covered by their provincial plans such as dental care, vision care, or prescription drugs (60 per cent of Canadians have additional private insurance coverage to pay for items not covered by their health plans).

So in addition to diving into curriculum requirements and schedules, doing a little homework on health insurance can earn visiting students some clear dividends.

© Copyright 2021 Milan Korcok. All rights reserved.

Leave A Reply