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Fuelling the Knowledge Economy:
International Students in Ontario
International students and their transition to highly-skilled migrants
Migration Futures: Perspectives on Global Changes
16th International Metropolis Conference
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Ontario’s Knowledge Economy
Ontario is quickly transitioning to knowledge-base economy.
Manufacturing sector declined during the recent recession.
Employment growth post-recession has been concentrated in the services-producing sector:
professional, scientific, technical and educational industry.
Increased globalization is putting pressure on Ontario to be more competitive and
Ontario is placing a strong focus on driving innovation and strengthening its human
In 2008, Ontario announced an innovation agenda with a $3B investment over eight years,
including building on a diverse culture and a highly-skilled work force.
Immigration and the Knowledge Economy
One of the key challenges Ontario faces is a decreasing workforce due to an aging
population and a declining birth rate.
Immigration is a key lever that Ontario is using to address demographic pressures
and meet the future demands of the economy:
Ontario’s Ministry of Finance predicts that immigration will account for all growth in the
working age population within the next five years.
Immigrants have the education to match future jobs in the knowledge economy:
• 70% of all future jobs will require a post-secondary education.
• According to 2009 Labour Force Survey data, 76% of very recent immigrants (here five
years or less) between the ages of 25-54 have a post-secondary diploma.
A 2010 Conference Board of Canada report noted that immigrants are strong contributors to
innovation, a key driver of a knowledge economy.
International Students
International students make up a key segment of the immigrant pool that Ontario is
seeking to attract and retain.
In 2010, the Government of Ontario announced to increase international student
enrolment by 50% over five years in its post-secondary institutions.
In 2009-10, over 38,000 were enrolled at Ontario postsecondary institutions.
In 2011, Ontario along with other Provinces/Territories endorsed an International
Education Marketing Action Plan to attract and retain international students in
The federal government also signalled its commitment to attracting top international
students, in 2008.
International students improve the flow of knowledge and information, understanding
of global markets and make immediate contributions to the economy.
In 2009-10, international students contributed $1 billion to the provincial economy.
International Students and Transition to
Permanent Residency
International students are seen as long-term contributors to the province’s knowledge
economy as they have:
In Ontario, international students can transition to permanent residency through two
Canadian credentials;
Familiarity with Canadian society and culture; and
Language skills and work experience.
Opportunities Ontario: Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), International Student Category –
administered by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.
Canadian Experience Class – administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Opportunities Ontario: PNP, International Student Category, has three streams:
PhD Graduate Stream:
• Do not require a job offer;
• Graduated from an Ontario publicly funded university;
• Completed at least two years of their studies; and
• Apply within two years of the date their degree is granted.
International Students and Transition to
Permanent Residency (continued)
Pilot Masters Graduate Stream:
• Do not require a job offer;
• Graduated from an Ontario publicly funded university;
• Completed one academic year on a full-time basis;
• Can apply within two years of graduation or during the last semester;
• High official language proficiency;
• Minimum level of savings/income to support themselves and their dependants; and
• Lived in Ontario for at least one year in the past two years.
Students with a Job Offer Stream:
• Secured a full-time job offer; and
• Graduated from a publicly funded college or university.
The Canadian Experience Class is available to students who graduated from a postsecondary institution with at least one-year of full-time work experience in Canada.
Opportunities for Ontario
Ontario continues to be an attractive destination for international students.
Uptake by international students of the Opportunities Ontario: PNP is promising:
The number of international students in Ontario grew by 74% from 2001 to 2010 (from
49,104 to 85,280)
Since January, 326 internationals students were approved through Opportunities Ontario:
PNP for permanent resident status.
The number of international students increased by 12% from last year (292 students were
approved in 2010).
Similar trends are surfacing through the Canadian Experience Class:
Ontario receives the largest share (64%) of immigrants that come through the CEC program.
Of that share, international students comprise of 63% of CEC intake. (Temporary Foreign
Workers make up the remaining 37%).
Annex 1 – Statistics on International
Students in Ontario
The following is a breakdown of the 326 international students approved (thus far)
through Opportunities Ontario: PNP in 2011:
10 are PhD graduates without a job offer;
276 are Masters graduates without a job offer; and
40 are international students with a job offer.
The top five source countries based on 2010 data are: