While Ontario remains the most popular province to study and work in Canada, international students are becoming increasingly aware of opportunities that exist outside of Canada’s most populous province. In particular, Canada’s Atlantic provinces — Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick — have begun to receive serious consideration from newcomers to Canada.
According to recent reports from QS, cost of living and post-graduation work opportunities remain top of mind for students looking to further their education abroad. The Atlantic provinces deliver on this promise, with a low cost of living and regional programmes designed to help newcomers obtain permanent residency (PR) faster.
Nova Scotia has been a particularly popular target. The number of former international students granted PR in Nova Scotia already this year was nearly three times the total in 2016. The big draw? Nova Scotia’s rapidly developing tech sector. The capital, Halifax, is home to a number of up-and-coming tech powerhouses, and this booming tech scene is supported by housing and overall living costs that are much lower than densely populated Ontario and British Columbia.
Atlantic cities such as Halifax; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Saint John, New Brunswick; and St. John’s, Newfoundland offer some of the most affordable education for international students in Canada. For example an undergraduate student in Toronto will spend approximately C$144,100 more on tuition and rental costs than a student in St. John’s over a four-year period (C$231,000 vs. C$86,900).
The emergence of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) has also helped fuel student interest in the Atlantic region. Launched in 2017, the AIPP is a government-funded pathway program designed to help international students secure employment in Atlantic Canada following graduation.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Pathways Job Matching program is another provincial programme helping international graduates secure work and continue their journey towards permanent residency.
As Canada aims to grow its immigration targets over the next two years, the opportunities being offered across Canada’s Atlantic provinces are also growing. So far in 2021, every Atlantic province has experienced its highest year-over-year population growth since 1971.
Even better, Canada is on track to achieve its highest immigration total of all time this year, and international students have been a big part of that. As of August 31, 2021, every province in Canada has met or exceeded its number of international graduates who were granted PR in 2020. 12,695 international graduates have become permanent residents so far this year, the highest annual total in Canadian history.
All in all, international students are learning that Canada is much more than just its most populous province. As emerging businesses continue to expand to Atlantic Canada, provincial PR pathway programs gain traction, and the cost of living remains competitive, this growing region is poised to become an even more popular destination for international students.
The writer is Co-founder and CEO of ApplyBoard, an international student Edtech platform based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.