Nataliya Tarkhov, an international student narrates to us her reasons for wanting to stay in Atlantic Canada. Nataliya is an Israeli national who moved to Canada to pursue a two-year Business Administration Marketing study program at New Brunswick Community College.
“New Brunswick province has a lot more to do in terms of development and I feel like I can contribute to that. Someday I would like to open a business here,” Nataliya told Canusim.
Nataliya is one of the roughly 25,000 foreign students holding study permits in Atlantic Canada, which is made up of four provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Earlier in the year, a report published by the Council of Ministers of Education and Training (CAMET), a regional organization that unites Atlantic Canada’s four (4) education ministers, declared that international students studying at Atlantic educational institutions contribute about $795 million to the Atlantic economy annually.
Candela Bosco Suarez, an Argentina national who studies neuroscience at Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie University, declares that studying in a Canadian university is worth the expense.
“As a foreign student, you are obviously bringing in a lot of money to this country… however, you are also benefiting from the freedom and safety Canada has to offer,” she said.
The CAMET report details that the total spending for foreign students at colleges and universities in Atlantic Canada is $478 million.
But, the government’s interest in retaining and attracting international students to Atlantic Canada goes beyond their economic contribution during their period of study.
“[International students] are keeping universities buoyant as domestic enrollment drops; they are a crucial part of the regional economy, and they are a major source of the immigration required to thwart the region,” says a report released by the Public Policy Forum.
Parliament’s Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration has also acknowledged that international students are the major source of newcomers or immigrants in recommendations made last year to the Canadian government.
The two recommendations focus on the need to expand settlement services and work programs to help international students find meaningful long-term jobs in the region after graduation.
“Most foreign students come here with the purpose of staying in to Canada,” Candela said. “When I obtain my degree here and start working here then it’s a pretty solid indication that I desire to stay here.”
Finding jobs is key to retaining foreign students in the region
While Nataliya is hoping to enter the labour force after getting her diploma in Business Administration and Marketing, she is hoping to delay working until she finishes medical school.
“It would be perfect if I can obtain my permanent residency right after I complete my university degree instead of having to work for a year or two before being able to apply for medical school,” Candela said.
While this may not be the case for all medical schools in Canada, admission to the Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine undergraduate MD program requires candidates to have Canadian permanent resident status or Canadian citizenship.
According to the CAMET stats, Forty-two (42) per cent of the survey carried out on international graduates in Atlantic Canada expressed an intention to stay and work after graduation, while other students plan to further their studies.
Currently, Nataliya is working while studying and wish to continue to work after graduation. While she has the option of filing for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP), she rather prefers to apply for permanent resident status.
Her plan is to file for the Atlantic Immigration Pilot’s International Graduate stream, which would accelerate her chances for permanent residence.