Supporting international students during changing times: Key considerations for Canadian institutions

Brad Finch
Brad Finch
is SVP & Country Head, Canada at Flywire

While the situation is evolving, there is little doubt that Canada’s new policies governing international undergraduate study will change the landscape of higher education in Canada over the next two years, and likely for many more to come.

For institutions, the measures landed in a somewhat swift and prescriptive way - particularly for institutions in British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario, where 83% of all international students studying in Canada go (half of those study in Ontario alone). Much remains to be seen in terms of: the mechanisms governing how study permit applications will be allocated, the rollout of the processes for the newly required attestation letters and the narrowing access of post-graduation work permits (PGWPs).

For your students, that feeling of uncertainty is magnified. However, Canadian institutions have an opportunity to embrace their role as trusted student guides and infuse calm and order in the student experience.

How? Long before the regulations were handed down, international students have provided guidance on some of the steps their institutions can take to best support them.

Firstly, the drivers of education are shifting. On average, students across the globe now prioritize educational value, and affordability feeds the perception of value. Domestic and international students alike want options to make their education more affordable. Of the 200+ students recently surveyed in Canada, 77% said payment plans would help them afford their education, but only 44% said their institutions offer installment payments.

More specifically, for international students, affordable payment options are even more important considering the new Canadian requirements to obtain a study permit. Applicants are now required to prove they have twice as much in their bank account as before (CAD $20,635), in addition to their first year of tuition and travel costs.

These findings suggest students want information on whether installment plans are an option as soon as they receive their acceptance letter – and it actually influences school choice. Naturally, education costs weigh heavily on the minds of students and being able to take advantage of flexible payment options can put their investment in education within a manageable budget.

Additionally, many international students rely heavily on education consultants to help navigate the application/admissions process and more broadly support their path to study in Canada. By popular counts, 80% of international students in Canada engage with education consultants, and these relationships are extremely important for Canadian institutions. Providing education consultants with real-time information exchange on critical steps within the admission process allows institutions to create a more efficient ecosystem. For example, giving education consultants updates on tuition payment and refund status – while removing the consultants from the actual transaction flow – has helped institutions enhance security and compliance protocols, accelerate the admissions process and provide better transparency for students and families right from the start.

As institutions navigate the new government policies, having the right tools to execute against a strategic enrollment plan is more important now than ever before. Improving the speed of acceptance, having the flexibility to turn on new payment options and currencies and improving the ecosystem for educational consultants will help institutions meet the needs of an evolving student population.

Flywire is here to support the needs of institutions across Canada in an effort to digitize and optimize the payment and admissions ecosystem.

For more resources on supporting international students in Canada: