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The Student Voice - National Results of the 2021 CBIE International Student Survey (2022)

Posted on:
July 8, 2022

The Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) conducted this survey of 67 Canadian educational institutions and over 40,000 international students (approximately 12% of all post-secondary international students in Canada):

"This year, in collaboration with a committee of practitioners and researchers, we refined our survey instrument to better articulate the challenges and opportunities that students face, from pre-arrival planning through study and post-graduate phases. Our intention is for this important tool to become instrumental in measuring the progress of strategic and operational objectives within Canadian higher education institutions. In addition to the longitudinal data collected by CBIE since 2012, the ISS also offers a point-in-time snapshot of relevant and salient themes. The data collected in this year’s survey provides valuable insight into the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on students as they experienced arriving in Canada, studying online and searching for work opportunities. The survey has also been revised to understand in a meaningful way the perceptions of safety and inclusion that students have while in our country."

The section on Pre-Arrival Experience and Decision-Making is very interesting and reinforces much of what we know about Newcomer information practice - that it is as diverse as Newcomers themselves.

From the report:

“The three most-valued resources cited by student respondents in helping them choose their institution were institutional websites, personal recommendations and institution ranking websites or publications. Government websites from the home country and Canada were not valued as informational resources. Interestingly, information from recruitment agents was not identified as a top resource. These findings are not universal, and the results vary considerably based on the source country.”

"2.2. Informational Resources

Student respondents were asked to identify the most and least useful resources that they consulted when choosing Canada as their study destination.

For most student respondents, the institution’s website, personal recommendations and websites/publications ranking universities and colleges were seen as the most valuable resources to inform their decisions.

Conversely, government websites, whether in their home country or Canada and international recruiting agents were seen as the least useful resources.

Interestingly, social media sites, online forums and blogs were considered useful by over 43.8% of respondents but were also viewed dubiously by 34.4% of respondents. There were also some differences among the top source countries regarding which resources were deemed most and least useful.

Looking at patterns of resource utility by student respondents from the top three source countries, there are some localized differences. These variances in how alternative resources are perceived underscore the need for nuanced approaches to international student recruitment in different countries, strengthening institutional and government websites and ongoing engagement with alumni to encourage them to advocate for their alma maters.

Image of table showing 2021 international student survey Most Useful Resources by Top Three Sending countriesImage showing 2021 international student survey Most Useful Resources and least useful resources

2.3. Experience with Admissions and Pre-Arrival

Among student respondents, the top three issues encountered during or following admission were arranging for accommodation, transferring funds, and

obtaining a study permit. Each of these factors was cited at least 40% of the time by respondents. Among respondents from the top ten source countries for international students to Canada, there were notable differences in terms of issues experienced, particularly regarding study permits. Interestingly, while there are differences between countries, the scores were virtually identical among students from the same country who

enrolled on a full-time or part-time basis or studied in a rural or urban centre.

Students from countries that have recently begun increasing their enrollment in Canadian institutions reported more frequent issues with study permit flows than those from established source countries. While these differences may be attributable to the simple fact that established source countries have more robust networks and institutional practices based on experience, a more careful review of causality needs to be undertaken to understand these issues.

There is a broad consensus across Canada’s international education community on the imperative to diversify source countries for recruitment. As these diversification efforts continue, careful consideration must be given to attendant issues experienced by international students. Finally, absent comparative data, it is unclear whether issues cited by international students, for example, finding affordable accommodations, reflect the realities of Canada’s tight housing market or are a sign of broader resourcing issues.”

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The Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) conducted this survey of 67 Canadian educational institutions and over 40,000 international students (approximately 12% of all post-secondary international students in Canada).