University of Alberta says it has more international students than ever, and the ‘Trump factor’ could yet bring more applications

Published: 09/07/2017


His policies have seen thousands of people flee the U.S. and seek refuge in Canada.

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And now, the University of Alberta (U of A) believes U.S. President Donald Trump’s approach to politics could result in even more applications from foreign students as the post-secondary institution’s number of international undergraduate students already sits at a record high.

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“(The) Trump factor, there’s no denying that that plays a role,” Britta Baron, associate vice-president at the University of Alberta (international), said on Wednesday, when asked about what’s driving the increased interest from international students.

The University of Alberta already has more international students registered for its undergraduate programs than ever before at 1,239, according to preliminary numbers from the institution last month.

That’s 205 more than there were in 2016.

About 15 per cent of the institution’s undergraduates are foreign students, according to the university.

Baron told Global News that there’s also a spike in applications from students who hail from countries that are included in Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban,” which prevents residents of six mostly (majority?) Muslim countries from entering the United States.

“Particularily Iran, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of Iranian students for graduate studies, but also for undergraduate,” Baron said.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration signaled that it plans to dismantle Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a government program that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children.

Baron suggested that she wouldn’t be surprised if that decision stirred even more applications to U of A from international students.

“We don’t know – it’s 800,000 DACA children, or young people – many of them in higher education. That could be another big wave of interest in coming to Canada,” she said.

Nabil Rahman is a student at the university from Bangladesh. He also believes that more international students are looking to study in Canada.

“I do feel like people are moving their decisions more towards Canada than the United States as of recently,” Rahman said Wednesday.

“It’s definitely good news,” Murtoza Manzur, president of the University of Alberta’s International Students’ Association, said when asked about the record number of international students.

“We value diversity on campus, we have a lot to learn from each other, and Canada – Edmonton – is the perfect place, especially with what’s going on south of the border. Lots of people are choosing Canada.”

However, Baron said the university plans to keep the number of international students at 15 per cent of the total undergraduate population , regardless of whether more foreign students apply.

“We are very selective in admitting international students, but of course we are also happy to see that strong interest,” she said. “The more interest, the better able we are to select the very best.”

The largest number of international students registered at the University of Alberta, both for undergraduate and graduate studies, are from China and India, according to the institution’s preliminary figures.

Those countries also still make up the largest number of international student applications at the university.


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