Canada welcomed over 100,000 international students in 2012, the highest amount in the country’s history. The number was a 60 percent jump from intake levels in 2004.

International students are an important facet of Canada’s economy and society. According to one report, they contribute over $8 billion dollars annually to the country’s wealth. In addition, many foreign students remain in Canada after graduation, forming a crucial pool of skilled labour in important occupational fields.

“Attracting and retaining the best and brightest immigrants from around the world is part of the government’s commitment to grow Canada’s economy and ensure long-term prosperity,” said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “The steady growth in numbers confirms that Canada remains a destination of choice for international students because of the remarkable educational opportunities that exist in our world class institutions.”

Recent changes have been proposed to help foreign students more easily obtain a temporary work permit while pursuing study in Canada. In addition, provinces and territories are working with the federal government to designate institutions that may receive international students. This has been done to better protect foreign students and ensure that individuals on a study permit are, in fact, genuinely pursuing an education in Canada.

“Canada competes globally for the best and brightest minds, so we are continually working to make studying in Canada an attractive choice,” said Minister Kenney. “Through our proposed improvements to the International Student Program, we will further improve Canada’s already strong reputation.”