The number of international students at Nova Scotia universities has increased for the fifth year in a row.

The campuses across the Maritimes are becoming more multi-cultural and many universities are banking on foreign students to boost enrolment.

There are nearly 6,300 people from other countries taking classes in the province — 700 more than last year — with just over 2,200 attending Dalhousie University and nearly 2,000 at Saint Mary's University in Halifax.

"I actually love it here, like I'm so glad I came here. It's just the small classes and you get that one-on-one interaction with professors and you get so many opportunities that I don't think you would get at other universities," said Sylvia Gawad from Egypt.

While growth in domestic students at most universities in Nova Scotia has flatlined, the number of international students is up by more than 12 per cent.

Saint Mary's spokesman Steve Proctor said the university has been attracting international students for 30 years.

"One of our recruiters is in India right now, the other is in Cairo," he said.

"The majority of our students come from China followed by Saudi Arabia followed by Sri Lanka but we've been diversifying, continuing to diversify and doing a good job of that. Our valedictorian at our fall graduation was from Uganda yesterday."

Peter Halpin, executive director of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, said international enrolment is crucial with fewer Nova Scotians graduating from high school.

"Especially in an environment of reduced government funding and when you have a declining domestic population as we do, right across the region it becomes that more important to attract students from outside the region and from around the world to our campuses," he said.

International students also pay higher tuition, netting universities more money.

"Whatever it costs a regular student, it costs me around twice or 2.2 times of that money, which would be like $1,000 to $1,100 a course," said Marzurk Ahemed, a student from Bangladesh.