Is there a ‘Trump Effect’ that Increased Canadian International Student Enrollments?

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

Inside Higher Ed reported how Canadian universities and colleges are experiencing a surge and spike in applications to their higher education institutions, with some staffers claiming that it is due to U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies. This “Trump effect” will allow Canadian universities and colleges to make money with more expensive tuition charged to international students, a model that American universities heavily rely on for their budgets. Other staffers say that the rise in international student applications is on par with recent trends.

American universities, as the article pointed out, are seeing a decline in their international student applications, while Canadian universities such as the University of Waterloo in Ontario and McMaster University have seen increases of 25% and 34.4%, respectively. Thirty-nine percent of American universities have said they have seen a drop in international applications for this upcoming fall.

The same article by Inside Higher Ed quoted an international services staffer Leigh-Ellen Keating, who claimed that at a student recruiting fair in Mexico, “The table was flooded with people, which is not historically what I have seen with the Mexican market.” She continued, “They just want to go to Canada, and historically I think a lot of them would go to the States.” Keating admitted that the fair was taking place at a hotel, which was in front of an anti-Trump rally, and added, “Mr. Trump, he’s not bad for our recruitment strategy.”

Another staffer in student recruitment, Ryerson University’s assistant director for student recruitment, Marisa Modeski, countered statements like Keating’s:

“I think it’s a little bit early to point to a particular influencer in terms of the contribution to application numbers,” Modeski said. “We’re often asked about ‘the Trump effect,’ for example: are we seeing an increase because of that or because of Brexit,” a reference to the United Kingdom’s vote last year to exit the European Union. “Those can certainly be influencers, but I don’t think you can point to those as exclusive reasons for the increase in applications. I think you have to holistically look at all the positive things that Canadian universities have to offer.”

Another official said that the increase in enrollment can be due to a weak Canadian dollar, which makes a college degree more affordable for international students. Britta Baron, a University of Alberta vice provost and associate vice president, said that Canadian universities “have stepped up their efforts to recruit.” Others point to the fact that Canadian universities have waived application fees affected by President Trump’s travel restrictions, which may have affected Canadian university application figures.