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More than $180M in lost export revenue for Canada due to a decline in student numbers — survey

Canada’s language education sector experienced a major downturn in growth in 2015, according to recent survey data from Languages Canada. The Languages Canada 2015 Annual Survey Report presents findings from the 2015 Languages Canada annual survey conducted in February 2016. Member programs completed surveys to create a report that provides essential insights into the state of the language education sector in Canada.
The report, released today, shows the overall number of students enrolled at Languages Canada member programs declined from 137,416 in 2014 to 133,910 in 2015, despite a slight increase in program numbers. It points out the urgent need for a pan-Canadian approach that integrates all aspects of international education. 
While the ELT industry grew by 10.7% globally between 2011 and 2015 (StudentMarketing), Canada is falling behind. Had Canada even maintained global growth rates, Languages Canada member programs should have recorded 190,000 study weeks more than reported, equivalent to a loss of over $180 million to the Canadian economy in export revenue.
The loss of work opportunities and an uncertain regulatory context have probably had the biggest impact. Members identified their biggest challenges as competition from other programs, as well as student visa denials and processing times. French programs reported facing the same difficulties, despite the lower number of international students.
“We need to improve our offer to international students, which includes safeguarding their investment, and giving them access to the right to work while studying,” says Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director at Languages Canada. “Canada’s accredited language programs are facing fierce competition internationally from countries like Australia and New Zealand. We need to act now and develop better policy for the sector before Canada loses its standing even further.”
The survey shows the top five source countries for 2015 were: Brazil (19,865), Japan (19,618), China (17,093), South Korea (15,761) and Saudi Arabia (9,080).
“We hope that this data will be an effective tool to help policy makers make the right decisions to support the growth of international education in Canada. Never before has it been this important to come together to support the development of a sound strategy for the language education sector in Canada,” says Sharon Curl, President of Languages Canada.
Key Findings
The overall number of students enrolled at Languages Canada member programs decreased from 137,416 in 2014 to 133,910, despite a slight increase in program numbers.
49,194 students intended to continue on to post-secondary studies, representing 36.7% of all students attending Languages Canada accredited programs.
The top five source countries for 2015 were: Brazil (19,865), Japan (19,618), China (17,093), South Korea (15,761) and Saudi Arabia (9,080).
The top five markets of interest to Languages Canada members were: Brazil, China, Mexico, Vietnam and Japan.
French programs showed different patterns in student numbers, with the highest number of students originating from Canada (2,743), the United States (814), Brazil (756), Mexico (598) and China (471).
Tuition and living expenses paid by language students generated an estimated $1.5 billion in export revenue for the Canadian economy.
To download the full Executive Summary, please visit:
Languages Canada is Canada’s national language education association representing more than 225 private and public members that offer accredited English and French programs.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Sarah Snowdon
Communications Manager
Coline David
Communications and Executive Assistant