International students continue to flock to Quebec universities

The number of international students attending Quebec universities continues to grow, with some institutions measuring increases of almost 20 per cent in the past year.

Number of foreign students has increased by 68% over the last decade

The surge in Quebec is most notable within Montreal universities. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The number of international students attending Quebec universities continues to grow, with some institutions measuring increases of almost 20 per cent in the past year.

There are 7,200 international students enrolled at Concordia University, up 19 per cent from 2016. McGill University now has over 11,100 international students, up 13 per cent from last year. 

McGill, for its part, credits both its reputation and its recruitment of students in China and the Middle East.

Michel Patry, president of the coalition of Quebec universities (BCI), said there are multiple factors playing into the boon.

"The first, I think, is the quality of the Quebec university network," he said. "It's increasingly recognized."

He added another possible cause: what he called the "Donald Trump effect."

"We see it everywhere across Canada. There were more American or international students who were in the United States, or who wanted to be admitted to the United States, who moved to Canada," he said.

Overall, there were about 3,000 more international students in the province this year compared to 2016 — an increase of about nine per cent, according to data from the coalition of Quebec universities (BCI).

There's also been an upswing at French universities, including the Université de Montréal and tt Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

Université Laval, in Quebec City, is the only one to have recorded a fall.

While the surge is noticeable in Montreal, students from outside of Canada are also flocking to Chicoutimi.

As of 2017, about 1,300 international students are enrolled at Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. At a 25 per cent increase, that's the highest jump in international students across Quebec.

Steady growth over the last 8 years

In 2009, there were fewer than 25,000 foreign student registrations in Quebec.

Over the past eight years, that's jumped by more than 68 per cent.

Michel Patry is the executive director of HEC Montréal and president of the coalition of Quebec universities (BCI). (Radio-Canada)

Guy Lefebvre, the vice rector of international relations and Francophonie at Université de Montréal, said he doesn't necessarily believe more students are choosing Quebec because of political strife.

"The Trump effect or other political effects are difficult to quantify and to analyze," he said.

He thinks it has more to do with what universities have to offer.

With files from Radio-Canada's Anne-Louise Despatie