By the Numbers: Higher education in Canada through a global lens

Mark Mann
January 15, 2020

Canada's innovation ecosystem draws much of its strength from international students and immigrants. Here we look at some of the key figures and statistics underlying this vital trend.



Canada's rank among OECD countries for the proportion of adults with college or university education: 1st

Percentage of Canadian adults who've completed short-cycle tertiary education, such as programs conferring professional competencies: 26%

OECD average for short-cycle tertiary education: 7%


Expenditure per student in Canada at the college level: US$12,960

OECD average: US$11,745

Expenditure per student in Canada at the university level: US$26,263

OECD average: US$16,756

Country with the highest expenditure per student at the university level: United States 


Percentage increase in international students in Canada 2010-2018: 154%

Number of international students at colleges and universities in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, 2016/2017: 173,787

Number of international students in the rest of the country: 40,593

Percentage of international students registered at the short-cycle tertiary level in Ontario: 32%

Percentage of international students registered at the short-cycle tertiary level in Newfoundland and Labrador: 2%

Percentage of international students in Canada who come from Asia: 64%

Percentage of international students who come from China: 32%

The top five source countries at the doctoral or equivalent level: 1. China, 2. Iran, 3. France, 4. United States, 5. India

Canada's rank for the most attractive destination for international university students in

the world: 8th*

Percentage of international students in Canada in 2017 who were hosted in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal: 57%*


Canadian Bureau for International Education

*Century Initiative, Scaling International Education

All other figures cited from Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective, 2019 by Statistics Canada


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