Partner: CBIE/BCEI

Canada draws its sizable international student population from around the world, with Asian, North American, as well as European countries all represented among the top ten leading places of origin for international students in Canada. Canada’s educational institutions and associations and its federal and provincial governments are keenly interested in student mobility. There were over 263,800 international students pursuing post-secondary education in Canada in 2015 In 2015, the top five places of origin were China, India, France, the United States, and South Korea. In 2014, over 45,800 students from Canada studied abroad.


Inbound/International Student: A temporary resident who has been approved by an immigration officer to study in Canada. The study permit identifies the level of study and the length of time the individual may study in Canada. International students do not need a study permit for courses of six months or less if they will finish the course within the period of stay authorized upon entry, which is usually six months. Every foreign student must have a student authorization, but may also have been issued other types of permits or authorizations.

Foreign Student: Canada does not differentiate between international and foreign students.

Outbound Student: Canadian students pursuing a full-degree abroad as reported by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Canada does not have national data for students who participate in short term education abroad experiences as part of their Canadian degree.

Higher Education Institution (HEI): A HEI or postsecondary education institution includes formal educational activities for which high school completion is the normal entrance requirement. Constituting authority or ownership is the primary distinction between Public HEIs and Private HEIs. When ownership is not apparent, the involvement of government in the control of the provider is the most important distinction. Control is defined as the potential to affect strategic decision-making, either through funding or accountability requirements.

Data Tables

Data Collection and Resources

The Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE-BCEI) is the primary organization responsible for reporting international student mobility data to Project Atlas. The statistics division of the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is the primary entity that collects data on international students and CBIE uses IRCC’s data to report inbound mobility unless otherwise stated. Other agencies such as CBIE and provincial/territorial ministries are also engaged in analyzing and interpreting in-bound mobility data

Canadian organizations responsible for international student data collection and reporting include: