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Why there's a 70% spike in South African students heading to Canada to study?

Students walking through campus

There has been a 70% increase in South African students heading to Canada for study. New data from the Canadian immigration ministry shows that from 2020 to 2021 the number of study visas issued to South African students more than doubled. According to Canadian immigration consultant, Nicholas Avramis, “since the civil unrest from last year more South African parents have made the decision to send their children to Canada for study as it is an affordable ‘plan B’ option for the family.”  

On average, about 5,000 to 7,000 students from South Africa head abroad for study each year. The Canadian immigration consultant says that the three-year open work permit that Canada offers its foreign graduates is a major attraction for South African parents worried about their child’s job prospects after school is done. This open work permit allows foreign graduates to work in any job and anywhere in the country. According to Avramis, “South African parents have caught on to the fact that sending their children to Canada for varsity places them on the path toward Canadian citizenship.” With about 720,000 foreign students in Canada today, Canada hosts the most foreign students out of any industrialized country.   

While Eastern Europe has traditionally been a popular destination for students from around the world, the current war in Ukraine has forced South African students to rethink their plans to head to Eastern Europe for post-graduate education. Avramis says, “As Eastern Europe continues to destabilize, we continue to receive a steady call from aspiring South African students who are exploring Canada as an alternative option.”   

The current images coming out of Europe have forced South African students to re-think their plans. While Eastern Europe has been thought of an affordable option for students, especially medical students, one’s safety and security are paramount. Avramis says, “When clients learn that graduating with a Canadian Masters or PhD will potentially lead to immediate permanent residency the clients are sold- Canada offers the best value for money and it’s safe.”  


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