Deciding where to attend college or university is one of the biggest decisions most people will make in their life. Not only what they study, but where and how it is paid for are all factors which will determine a person's success in years to come. For many people, that decision often involves having to move away from home. Some people move to other cities, some to other provinces, but more and more people are actually moving to other countries and continents, and that has been great news for Canada.
Canada is fast becoming one of the world's top destinations for students looking to study abroad. In 2018, international student enrolment in the country hit an all-time high, with more than 572,000 non-native learners choosing to make Canada a second home (Study International, 2019). The list of countries whose students are recognizing the incredible opportunity Canadian post-secondary education affords is growing quickly, with China and India at the very top of that list. And the benefit isn't just to those international students, but to Canadian students as well, as the higher rates of tuition paid by international students serve to subsidize the tuition of domestic students. International students also make excellent candidates for permanent residency as well, since they are relatively young, proficient in at least one official language, have Canadian educational qualifications, and can help address this country's existing and imminent labor market needs, particularly for highly skilled workers.
It isn't just Canadian students who benefit from international students coming to study in major Canadian cities such as Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, and Saskatoon. There is a tremendous economic benefit to Canada as well, something that helps everyone. In fact, according to the Canadian government, international students contributed over $20 billion to Canada's GDP and supported nearly 170,000 jobs for Canada's middle class in 2018 alone (GAC, 2019).
So what is it that draws so many students to Canada? Canada scores high on three important parameters – quality, affordability, and post-graduation opportunities. Not only the high quality of education offered by Canadian schools but the overall high quality of Canadian life and Canada's proximity to and preferred participation in one of the world's most influential markets as well. The high number of opportunities combined with the relatively low population can provide a strong advantage over local opportunities available to them back home. It is also an attractive option because the government has made it easier for students to remain in the country, both during their studies and after graduation.
As enrollment rates continue to increase, the rental market must be well-positioned to house these students. Very few international students purchase homes or condominiums, preferring to rent for reasons of cost, convenience, and practicality. This creates a surging demand for apartment rentals located nearby post-secondary institutions and inner-city amenities, something Mainstreet has recognized and reflected in our decision to cluster buildings around those locations. This affords students the added benefit of being able to get to school without owning a vehicle, an added expense which many students may prefer to do without.
International students represent a significant economic and socio-cultural contribution to Canada. As our country continues to dominate the market for study abroad, we are proud to be able to provide a home away from home for so many people who have chosen Canada to begin their lives.