By Bunmi Bailey | Businessday
Nigerian students are heading to Canada in record numbers despite Nigeria’s economic downturn, according to new data from the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
According to the IRCC data, the number of new study permits for Nigeria increased by 30.3 percent to 13,745 from 10,550 in 2020, making it the ninth most popular source country for international students. This is the highest in 22 years.
Also, the total of new study permits on a global scale increased by 17.7 percent to 621,565. A study permit is a document issued by the Canadian government that allows foreign nationals to study at designated learning institutions (DLIs) in the country.
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The voice of Canadian immigration, the world’s leading Canadian immigration news website attributed the recovery to Canada’s easing of Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) rules as part of its efforts to attract international students and retain them as immigrants.
“Before the pandemic, IRCC did not allow distance learning to count towards PGWP eligibility, but they have temporarily relaxed this policy until August 31, 2022, to help those who want to go ahead with their Canadian study plans amid the pandemic,” the company said.
The PGWP is an open work permit, which allows international graduates to work for any Canadian employer without needing a job offer. A major benefit of this is that it enables international graduates to gain professional work experience in Canada.
The permit is valid for up to three years (the actual length of each person’s PGWP depends on the length of their Canadian educational program).
Also, in 2020, Canada introduced a pilot program called “The Nigeria Student Express (NSE)” for Nigerians who have been accepted to a Canadian post-secondary institution. The program aims to fast-track study permit processing for Nigerians to help expedite the study permit application process.
According to IRCC, the pilot is for those who have been offered admission to a Canadian post-secondary institution such as a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate program, or a post-graduate diploma course.
The voice of Canadian immigration also added that in addition to the prospects of gaining permanent residence, international students report they are drawn by Canada’s high-quality education, multiculturalism, and safety, among other factors.
The IRCC also highlighted that the top 10 international student source countries by the number of study permit holders were India (217,410), China (105,265), France (26,630), Iran (16,900) and Vietnam (16,285).
South Korea comes in the sixth position with 15,805, followed by the Philippines with 15,545, The United States, Nigeria and Mexico with 14,325, 13,745 and 11,550 respectively.