Starting from January 1st, 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) revised the cost-of-living stipulation for study permit applicants.
This adjustment is a notable change from the early 2000s when the requirement stood at $10,000 for a single applicant. The updated cost-of-living requirement is now set at $20,635, in addition to the first-year tuition and travel expenses.
Acknowledging that the previous financial threshold has become outdated and no longer accurately reflects the true cost of living for students in Canada, IRCC aims to prevent student vulnerability and exploitation with this increase. While recognizing the potential challenges posed by this adjustment, IRCC plans to initiate targeted pilot programs to assist underrepresented groups of international students in pursuing their studies in Canada.
In an effort to maintain adaptability to economic conditions, IRCC plans to annually update the cost-of-living requirement in alignment with Statistics Canada's low-income-cut off (LICO).
LICO signifies the minimum income necessary in Canada to ensure individuals do not need to allocate a higher-than-average proportion of their earnings toward essential needs.
For international students, this implies that financial prerequisites will closely correlate with the cost of living in Canada, adjusting to annual LICO variations. These adjustments aim to ensure that the cost-of-living requirement consistently mirrors the economic realities in Canada.
Comparison of Study Costs in Canada with Other Global Destinations
Commencing January 1st, 2024, the rise in the cost-of-living requirement for international students in Canada brings it in line with expenses in other sought-after study destinations like New Zealand and Australia. This adjustment strategically positions Canada competitively in the global education market, albeit acknowledging that the requirement will be higher when compared to certain other countries.
The living expenses required for studying in Australia amount to approximately $21,826 CDN, and for New Zealand, the figure is $20,340 CDN. Meanwhile, living costs in England fall within the range of $15,680 CDN to $20,447 CDN.
In contrast, the United States mandates international students to demonstrate funds of at least $10,000 USD annually. Some countries, such as France, Germany, and Denmark, have even lower cost-of-living requirements, with Denmark necessitating around $1,175 CDN for living expenses.
Despite these variations, Canada consistently maintains its status as a top destination for international students. A study conducted by IDP Education in March 2023, titled "An Emerging Futures," highlights Canada as the preferred choice for international students.
More than 25% of survey participants identified Canada as their primary preference for international study among four major destination countries: Canada, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
Canada stands out as a premier study destination for various reasons, notably its esteemed world-class education system. Canadian universities and colleges consistently earn high global rankings, delivering a diverse array of programs and degrees.
Furthermore, Canadian universities and the government offer an array of scholarships, grants, and financial aid options for international students. These opportunities may be merit-based, need-based, or linked to specific criteria within the student's chosen field of study.
Opportunities for Employment and Post-Graduation Work Benefits for International Students in Canada
International students in Canada enjoy the privilege of working part-time during their studies, providing them with the chance to acquire valuable work experience and supplement their income. The government permits students to work up to 20 hours per week during the academic semester and allows full-time employment during scheduled breaks.
Improvements to Canada's International Student Program
An advantageous feature for international students in Canada is the prospect of post-graduation work. The country provides various work permits, including the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), enabling students to acquire valuable work experience upon completion of their studies. The validity of a PGWP ranges from 8 months to 3 years, depending on the duration of the study program. This work experience holds significance when PGWP holders apply for Canadian permanent residence.
According to a study by IDP Education, 63% of students worldwide consider post-study work as a primary or influential factor in choosing where to study, and 72% express their intention to apply for a work permit after graduation.
Anticipated Surge in Canada's International Student Numbers for 2024
Despite the cost-of-living requirement aligning with expenses in other popular study destinations, Canada maintains its distinction as a premier choice, providing world-class education, diverse programs, and abundant financial aid opportunities. In fact, Canada is poised to set new records and draw students from across the globe in the coming year.
An internal policy document from IRCC has projected a continuous increase in the number of international students, reaching 949,000 in 2023 and slightly exceeding one million in 2024. The projections indicate a further rise to 1.1 million in 2025, 1.28 million in 2026, and 1.4 million in 2027.
Additional insights from IRCC disclose a significant upswing in the issuance of study permits for 2023, surpassing the already record-setting numbers in 2022. The current trajectory of study permit processing suggests that the number of permits granted is expected to reach an unprecedented high, totaling 600,000 permits by the end of 2023.
IRCC's data emphasizes that the momentum in Canada's international student enrollment and study permit issuance shows no signs of slowing down, with these trends expected to persist well beyond 2023.
If your dream is studying in Canada, this is the perfect time to start the first steps! You can contact our team and book an appointment with our educational consultants!