Languages Canada steady in 2014

25 June, 2015

The number of international students enrolled at Languages Canada schools grew by around six per cent to 137,416 in 2014, but with an increase in member programmes equated to a same-level performance, according to a report released by the association this week.

In the report, based on the results of a survey completed by all 225 member schools conducted in February, Languages Canada said the sector generated a minimum of CAN$1.48 billion (US$1.19 billion) in export revenues for the Canadian economy.

The association said the increase of around 8,000 students in the 2014 survey was in part due to a membership increase – there were an additional 13 schools at the time of the latest survey. Nonetheless, last year represented a stabilisation after a 10 per cent decline in 2013.

Brazil overtook Japan in 2014 to become the largest source country for the first time, accounting for 20,128 students – a 14 per cent increase compared with the previous year. Japan grew by over 11 per cent to 20,081 students. The top five was completed by China (17,865), Korea (15,571) and Saudi Arabia (10,497).

However, the association said the impact of federal visa regulations implemented in 2014, uncertainty in regulatory outcomes in British Columbia and Quebec and compliance costs in Ontario were continuing to challenge the sector and restrict further growth.

“This year’s report shows how growth and innovation are directly impacted by policy, or the absence of policy, causing uncertainty in the market. If Canada had continued without change in government policy in 2012, we should have welcomed close to 160,000 international language students in the country in 2014, based on global growth rates, not the 137,416 reported in this survey,” said Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director of Languages Canada.

The 2014 total was below the figure of approximately 143,000 recorded by the association’s members in 2012.

Sharon Curl, President of Languages Canada, said,  “We are hopeful that the results of this report will support the creation of better policy for the sector in Canada and help generate further awareness about the value of language in the context of education, trade immigration and the workforce.”   

A Spokesperson for Languages Canada told StudyTravel Magazine that the association was hoping for legislation and regulations that support sector growth, quality and student protection, policy that properly balances compliance and promotion and “policy that is supported and endorsed by the sector, not that claims that government knows best following limited consultation or, as we have seen, with no consultation”.

While some provincial governments have accomplished these aims, others, including the federal government, have not, said the Spokesperson.

Member schools stated in the survey that the biggest challenges included visa approvals, including denials and delays in processing, as well as competition from other language programmes, both inside and outside of Canada.

For Languages Canada’s French language programmes, Canada itself was the largest source market (2,712 students), followed by the US (766), Brazil (677), Mexico (585) and China (303).

The average study period at member schools in 2014 was 12 weeks, the association said. Fifty-five per cent of students required some form of visa to enter the country, while 35 per cent came with no visa for short-term courses. The survey revealed that 48,468 students, just over one third of the total, intended to continue on to post-secondary studies. However, Languages Canada said the true figure could be higher as not all institutions were able to track and report this data.

The usage of agents to recruit international students was twice as common at private sector members of Languages Canada; 67 per cent was the average ratio of agent-sourced students among private sector centres in 2014, compared with 32 per cent in the public sector. Both figures were consistent with the 2013 survey.

StudyTravel Magazine’s Market Analysis of language schools in Canada in 2013 and 2014 (due to be published in the October issue), both showed 67 per cent of students were sourced via agents.

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