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Canada's Official Languages Programs 2023 Annual Survey Report

Canada’s English and French language education sector is recovering slowly, but corrective action is still needed to ensure a sustainable position.

Languages Canada, the country’s national association representing nearly 200 official languages (English and French) programs, has released its annual survey report. Based on data collected from the association’s members between January and March of 2024, the report provides an overview of the language education sector in Canada in 2023.

Languages Canada members welcomed a total of 112,564 students last year, achieving a recovery rate of 75% compared to pre-pandemic student numbers. Cumulatively, these international and Canadian students spent 1,234,447 weeks studying at least one of the country’s official languages, a recovery rate of 82% in terms of student weeks.

Canada’s official languages programs continue to welcome an extremely diverse student body. In 2023, 42 source markets experienced year-on-year growth, with Japan, Mexico, and Brazil claiming the top 3 spots and recovering to 82%, 91%, and 55% of their 2019 student numbers, respectively. Domestic students achieved a 127% recovery rate, surpassing 2019 levels.

Good News and Bad

The association’s Executive Director, Gonzalo Peralta, welcomed the good news to be found in this report: “The sector is recovering, albeit slowly. We saw an increase in French language students from Canada. Diversity remains strong.”

But he also sees reason to sound the alarm bell: “Our French language programs and our public sector (university and college) official languages programs have been in a severe decline since 2019. Obviously, much needs to be done to correct the path of this sector towards a sustainable direction and position.”

At the end of 2023, public sector programs had recovered 57% of their student numbers and 63% of their student weeks, while those figures stood at 83% and 91% for private sector members. These numbers become even more concerning as the sector faces continued adversity in 2024 due to the study permit caps imposed by the Canadian government.

Languages Canada continues to advocate for more carefully targeted policies to help to achieve the government’s goal of curbing uncontrolled growth in international student numbers, without putting the country’s official languages programs, which are still in decline, at risk.

More key figures

  • Education agencies remain the primary booking channel for Languages Canada members, generating 63% of all bookings in 2023.
  • Overall, Languages Canada members employed a minimum of 4,781 staff in 2023, which represents 160 fewer employees than in 2022.
  • The average weekly tuition fee stood at $348, an increase of $25 compared to 2022. This represents an 8% year-on-year increase. Additionally, the average weekly income from accommodation fees increased by $45, growing from $297 in 2022 to $342 in 2023.
  • In 2023, homestay was the most popular type of accommodation, and was used by 58% of all students. It was the predominant choice in both the private and public sectors.
  • Languages Canada members’ direct economic contribution was $1.19 billion in 2023, a 30% increase compared to 2022, but still down 20% from $1.5 billion in 2019.