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Canada today sits in third position globally, after the United States and Australia, when it comes to the number of international students per country. One of the fastest growing source countries in terms of international students in Canada is the Philippines.

In 2015, there were just 1,880 Canadian study permit holders from the Philippines in Canada. Fast-forward four years and by 2019 this figure had almost quadrupled to  6,365. So, why has there been a massive upsurge in the number of Filipino students in Canada? ? And what can you do to make your dream of studying in Canada from the Philippines a reality? Let’s find out.

Filipino students in Canada: what you need to know

When it comes to total immigrant numbers from Canada, newcomers from the Philippines rank in the top three next to China and India. This is not true when it comes to the number of Filipino students obtaining and activating study permits in Canada. That said, the growth in the past five years has been impressive and clearly indicates the growing interest that Filipino students have about pursuing university or college education in Canada.

One of the biggest and most important changes that has enhanced the possibility of more Filipino students occured in 2013 when the Filipino government increased the basic education cycle from 10 to 12 years. This move, known as the K-12 reforms, meant that Filipino high-school students who graduated since this measure was introduced are now more closely aligned with the Canadian education system requirements and are thus far more likely to fulfill the basic eligibility criteria when it comes to applying to Canadian universities and colleges.

Another benefit that those wishing to study in Canada from the Philippines have over international students from many other destinations is that many Filipinos have  good English ability. This helps greatly when it comes to being accepted to a study program in Canada, which is a prerequisite for obtaining a study permit. However, despite these benefits certain challenges exist for Filipino students applying to Canadian universities and colleges. 

Despite the positive changes made in 2013, the Philippines trails other Southeast Asian countries in a variety of education indicators. Moreover, strong disparities continue to exist between regions and socioeconomic classes. In addition, the Philippine government continues to spend less per student as a share of per capita GDP than several other Southeast Asian countries, the latest budget increases notwithstanding. It also remains to be seen how the K-12 reforms will affect indicators like teacher-to-student ratios.

Aside from enhancing their educational attainment, there are a range of other factors that make Canada such an attractive destination for Filipino students. Five of the biggest factors are covered next.

Five reasons why Canada is so attractive for Filipino Students

Quality education: First and foremost, it should not be forgotten that the primary reason why there has been an uptick in the number of Filipino students applying for courses in Canada in recent years is because of the quality of the education on offer. Canadian colleges and universities turn out incredibly talented graduates. These well-funded, internationally-renowned institutions attract top professors and offer courses tailored to a changing economy. So, if you want to finish your course even smarter than you are right now and be fully prepared for working in life in Canada or elsewhere, then you should seriously consider a Canadian university or college.

Earn while you learn: As an Filipino student in Canada, you can earn as you learn. This allows  you to pay your way through university or college all while obtaining crucial work experience. This is not the case in other countries, just one reason why so many young people are choosing to study in Canada from the Philippines. You can learn more about working while studying in Canada here.

Lower tuition fees: While  the cost of study in Canada from the Philippines, as well as other international students, is more than the fees paid by their Canadian classmates, this total is still competitive compared with other countries, particularly the United States, Australia, and the UK. This is helped by the relatively weak Canadian Dollar at present. It should be noted that the fees that international students, including Filipino newcomers, can expect to pay will depend, to some extent, on the university or college they choose to attend. So, don’t sleep on cost when it comes to studying in Canada.

Visit here for more information on choosing the Canadian university, college or other educational institution that best meets your needs.

Pathway to permanent residence: Recent research from the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) shows that some 60 percent of international students in Canada have reported that they are interested in becoming permanent residents after their studies. Canada’s Express Entry immigration system offers bonus points to people with Canadian study and work experience, with further emphasis on your language skills, and your age. 

Tolerant and multicultural country: You don’t have to be an aspiring history or international relations student to know that Canada’s progressive and tolerant immigration policies are at odds with some of its global counterparts in 2020. So much so that in 2018, 79 percent of international students in Canada surveyed by CBIE cited the country’s open and tolerant society as a reason for making it their study destination of choice that year.

Obtaining a Canadian student visa from the Philippines: What are your options?

We have covered why so many Filipino students are now interested in studying in Canada but we have yet to explore the options available to aspiring students who wish to do so. Let’s do that now.

Canadian study permit: A Canadian study permit is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) to someone who wants to come to Canada to study, or continue ongoing studies in Canada.

In order to be eligible for a study permit in Canada, Filipino students can be expected to satisfy the following criteria:

  • obtain a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution (DLI);
  • prove enough funds to cover the first year of tuition, as well as living expenses and return transportation. This means ensuring that you, as the student, have $10,000 CAD per year in addition to tuition fees (slightly more if your intended program is in Quebec). Students who plan on bringing a family member will need to show an additional $4,000 CAD per year, plus $3,000 CAD for every additional family member. You can find further details on the various ways to prove minimum funds here;
  • satisfy Canadian immigration authorities that they will leave Canada at the end of the period authorized by the study permit; and
  • be admissible to Canada (police background checks and/or a medical may be requested).

It is important to note that there may be additional requirements for Filipino students wishing to study in Canada, depending on the applicant’s individual circumstances.

Student Direct Stream: Under the Student Direct Stream (SDS Canada), Filipino students can have their study permit applications fast-tracked, provided that they meet a series of qualifying criteria. This expedited study permit option is also open to students who are legally resident in Senegal, Morocco, China, Vietnam, Pakistan and India. 

In essence, the SDS Canada allows Filipino students, as well as those from the other participating countries, who demonstrate upfront that they have the financial resources and language skills to succeed academically in Canada to benefit from faster processing times. The service standard for Canada’s Student Direct Stream processing is 20 calendar days.

To qualify for the Student Direct Stream in Canada, applicants need to meet additional requirements, in particular language levels that are stricter than regular study permit requirements. In addition, a core component for acceptance through the Student Direct Stream is submitting a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) showing you have an investment account with a balance of CAD $10,000 or higher.

To be deemed eligible for a Canadian Student Direct Stream, you must include the following documents with your application:

If you want further information on finding the best bank to obtain a GIC, please consult our helpful guide.

A note on Quebec: Much like the immigration system more broadly in Canada, Quebec, Canada’s primarily French-speaking province, has its own eligibility requirements when it comes to the process of applying for a study permit to one of the province’s universities, colleges, or other educational institutions. 

In almost all cases, individuals who wish to study in Quebec also need to apply for and obtain a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (certificat d’acceptation du Québec, or CAQ) before they may begin studying in Quebec. This includes the aforementioned Student Direct Stream. In general, the process of applying for a study permit for Quebec entails additional fees and processing times compared to the regular Canadian student visa processing times.

The CAQ is generally valid for the duration of the study program, up to a maximum of 49 months, and when it comes to minimum fund requirements, there are a number of key differences compared with the rest of Canada. For example, in Quebec you, as the student, will be required to have $11,000 CAD per year in addition to tuition fees as opposed to $10,000 in the rest of Canada. In addition, if you plan on bringing a family member with you while you’re studying in Quebec then they you will need to show $5,100 CAD per year for the first family member over 18, and $3,800 for the first family member under 18.

If you would like information on obtaining a study permit for Canada or Quebec from the Philippines, need additional details on bringing a family member, or have queries about health care entitlements while studying in Canada then please visit our dedicated page on the topic.

Where are Filipino Students in Canada settling?

Ontario is home to the highest number of international students in Canada. In 2019, it hosted some 48 percent of the country’s international student population — nearly 307,000 people. British Columbia is in second place, with 23 percent of Canada’s international students —about 145,000 people. Quebec takes third position, with 14 percent of all international students in Canada — 87,000 people.

In 2018, the three biggest provinces for Filipino students in Canada were Ontario (34.3 percent), Alberta (29.8 percent) and British Columbia (24.5 percent).

Applying to study in Canada from the Philippines: dos and don’ts

When it comes to the actual process of applying for a study permit to Canada from the Philippines, there are a number of dos and don’t that you really need to consider closely. Here are our top tips:

Do your research and make sure that you are applying to a college or university that you will be happy to attend for the next three or four years.

Don’t forget to properly research what the course, or courses, you’ve applied for actually entail. How many hours per week will you be in labs? Will you have time to work a part-time job too? 

Do take the time to contact the educational institutions you are hoping to attend individually. In many cases, the application process will differ according to the college or university you hope to apply to. A one-size-fits-all approach will not cut it.

Don’t sleep on your language assessment. As an international student, you will need to show proficiency in English (or French, depending on the institution). Generally, this means you need to supply results of a recognized language test such as the TOEFL or IELTS – required results and recognized testing bodies will vary by institution. Make sure to book your exam in time.

Don’t waste time when collecting important supporting documents. Most universities and colleges will require a copy of your high school transcript. You may need to also provide an educational credential assessment to show that your transcript is equivalent to the level of a Canadian high school diploma, and if your transcript is not in English or French you should expect to be asked for an official translation. This all takes time, so don’t mess around!

Do go the extra mile and get your hands on additional supporting documents as you may need them. Further documents such as letters of recommendation, portfolios, personal essays, and other supporting documents may also be requested, depending on the program or institution. As always, it’s best to consult your intended institution directly for the full requirements.

Don’t assume that all application processes for each college or university you hope to apply for are the same. Depending on where you want to apply, you may need to go through a centralized online application system such as Apply Alberta or Education Planner BC. Other provinces may not have a centralized application system, so you’ll need to apply directly through the university or college’s website. 

Don’t forget that whatever the application deadline is at your intended institution, you need to include enough time to ensure that your study permit application can be processed in time for the start of the semester. It’s important to keep in mind that August and December have been the two busiest months for Filipino student arrivals to Canada. Again, something to keep in mind before you progress your application.

Do show patience! After you’ve submitted, you’ll have to wait for a decision from the universities or colleges you applied to. Many application systems allow you to check the status of your application online, and it’s recommended that you rely on this. However frustrating the wait may seem, be patient – you will get a response, whether you are accepted or not.

Don’t underestimate your value. Canadian government research estimates that international students contribute some $22 billion annually to the country’s economy and help to sustain over 170,000 jobs. In addition to their immediate $22-billion annual impact, international students who remain in Canada permanently will increase economic growth as both workers and consumers for many decades to come.

Don’t forget to be proud of yourself if you’re successful. After all, applying to study in Canada from the Philippines is a serious undertaking. Once you are accepted, you’ll receive a Letter of Acceptance from the Canadian university or college of your choice, with which you can apply for a Canadian study permit.

And that’s a wrap. If you’d like more information on any aspect of studying in Canada then be sure to visit our dedicated study section. And, if you moved, or are about to move, to Canada from the Philippines as a student and want to share any insights about your destination, even if it’s not listed above – get in touch! We’d love to share the  information or advice you may have for your fellow Filipino citizens. Contact [email protected].

To keep up to date with all aspects of student life in Canada, why not register with Moving2Canada today.

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