Do international students stay in Canada after graduation?

In the third instalment of our series on higher education, McGill’s Senior Director of Communications and Planning, Susan Murley asks if international students stay in Canada after graduation? The answer may surprise you.

Banner_-_World_FlagsBy Susan Murley

Yes. Indeed they do. And the higher the level of education they come to study, the more likely students are to remain in the long term.

Statistics Canada looked at the share of international students who had applied for permanent resident status within 10 years of their first study permit. Retention rates have been rising since the 1990s, due largely to changes in immigration policy.

The biggest success story: one out of every two international students coming to Canada for graduate studies between 2000 and 2004 became permanent residents within a decade. One out of every three students starting a bachelor’s degree stayed, and one out of every four starting a college program settled here.


Why is this important? Canada’s aging population means we need more skilled workers. Only one out of every three Canadians aged 25 to 34 has a university degree, so we need a boost on the education front. And happily, the most skilled and educated international students are the ones staying.

Susan Murley is Senior Director, Strategic Communications and Planning at McGill and holds a PhD in English Literature. This post reflects her personal opinions, not the official position of McGill University.

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Anne Andermann
8 years ago

It would be interesting to look at this data by country of origin, since this may represent a tremendous brain drain from countries where rates of higher education are much lower and their citizens need this educated workforce even more than we do – so this might not be something to be so proud of…