Internationalization at Canadian universities: quick facts

Canada’s universities develop globally aware graduates with the internationally competitive skills suited to the jobs of today and tomorrow, while fostering globally connected research and scholarship. Results from a new survey by Universities Canada highlight how universities across the country are highly engaged in and committed to internationalization – and where there is room for improvement.

Universities Canada conducted this survey among its membership, consisting of 97 public and private not-for-profit universities and university degree-level colleges in spring and summer 2014. Universities Canada last surveyed internationalization among its member universities in 2006.

  • 96%
    priority for universities

    Ninety-six percent of Canadian universities include internationalization as part of their strategic planning, more than 80% identify it as one of their top five planning priorities. This is up 5% from 2006, when the Universities Canada survey was last done.

  • 89%
    say pace of internationalization is increasing

    Universities are translating this priority into action at an increasing pace: 89% say that the pace of internationalization on their campuses has accelerated during the past three years.

  • 81%
    offer international degree programs

    Eighty-one percent of Canadian universities offer collaborative academic programs with international partners, a major increase over the last eight years, when this number stood at 48%. Today, 63% of those that offer such academic programs offer dual or double degree programs and 45% offer joint degree programs.

  • 3.1%
    of students study abroad

    While 97% of universities offer international experiences, just 3.1% of full time undergraduate students had taken advantage of these opportunities in 2012-13. Canada needs more students to gain the global competencies that employers demand.

  • 86%
    identify geographic priorities

    Canada’s universities are leading the way in engaging the world’s most dynamic economies. Eighty-six percent of Canadian universities identify geographic priorities for their international activities. China, Brazil, India, the United States, France, Mexico and Germany are top priority partner countries.

  • 97%
    of universities offer international experiences

    Of the 97% of Canadian universities that offer international experiences nearly all enable students to do academic coursework abroad

    • 70% send students to foreign field schools
    • 67% offer service opportunities or volunteer work
    • 67% help students do research abroad
    • 66% offer foreign work experience
  • #1
    study-abroad destination - U.K.

    Although the geographic focus of universities’ internationalization efforts leans heavily toward developing powers, students’ preferred destinations for overseas experience remain the traditional ones of English-speaking and major western European nations such as the United Kingdom, Australia, France and Germany.

  • 89K
    international full-time students in Canada

    In 2014, there were approximately 89,000 full-time international students enrolled in undergraduate programs on Canadian campuses (approximately 11% of full-time undergraduates), and 44,000 full-time international students in graduate programs (almost 28% of all graduate students).

  • 72%
    bring an international dimension to the classroom

    Seventy-two percent of Canadian universities engage in initiatives to internationalize the curriculum; of those, 82% coordinate activities that develop students’ international perspectives; 53% integrate international students’ perspectives into classroom learning; and 44% provide professional development for faculty to help them integrate international/intercultural dimensions into their teaching.

  • 83%
    say funding a barrier to international research collaboration

    Universities report the most important barrier to international research collaboration to be a lack of funding opportunities, and challenges related to different funding application cycles in these countries.

    Despite this, Canadian universities collaborated and co-published with thousands of institutions in more than 180 countries around the world.

Universities Canada