Goal 3

Retention of International Students - Deep Dive

10% of foreign students stay in Nova Scotia (up from 5%).

Updated:

10% of foreign students stay in Nova Scotia (up from 5%).

yeartransitionsinternational enrolmentimputed retention rate
200514540653.60
200625542246.00
200725040096.20
200828537827.50
200922539275.70
201024045085.30
201121051744.10
201230559705.10
201340067126.00
201439571135.60
201525576063.40
201645578035.80

*Transition data for 2016 only includes January to October data

Data Table: Admissions of Permanent Residents to Nova Scotia who have ever held a Study Permit (Economic Classes only) and Enrolment of International Students at Nova Scotia post-secondary institutions.

Year Transitions/ Admissions International P.S. Students Enrolled** Imputed Retention Rate
 2005  145 4065 3.6%
 2006  255 4224 6.0%
 2007  250 4009 6.2%
 2008  285 3782 7.5%
 2009  225 3927 5.7%
 2010  240 4508 5.3%
 2011  210 5174 4.1%
 2012  305 5970 5.1% 
 2013  400 6712 6.0%
 2014  395 7113 5.6%
 2015  255 7606 3.4%
 2016  455* 7803 5.8%

*Year-to-Date, January to October.
**Data are not available for International Students enrolled at the Nova Scotia Community College. However, past reports estimate that roughly 1% of NSCC’s total enrolments are international enrolments. Therefore, 1% of total NSCC enrolments have been added to the data from MPHEC

Measuring retention rate is difficult. Several options are available, each with its own considerations. The methodology chosen most closely estimates the baseline provided in The Report of the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy. This approach does not measure an individual student’s likelihood of being retained, as it can partially mismatch cohorts with longer/shorter durations of study. Instead, it functions as an ‘attrition’ or churn rate, representing the flow of new permanent residents as a share of the pool of students from which they come.

Importantly, there are two factors which influence this rate: the number of students enrolling at Nova Scotian post-secondary institutions and the number of them transitioning to permanent residency. Fortunately for the province’s economy, both numbers are increasing in absolute terms. In relative terms, there is a volatile relationship between the two, as one may grow faster than the other in one year, but slower in the following year. Overall this means that the imputed retention rate changes significantly.

yeartransitionsinternational enrolmentimputed retention rate
200514540653.60
200625542246.00
200725040096.20
200828537827.50
200922539275.70
201024045085.30
201121051744.10
201230559705.10
201340067126.00
201439571135.60
201525576063.40
201645578035.80

*Transition data for 2016 only includes January to October data

The policies which facilitate these transitions have changed. The Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP) allows the Province of Nova Scotia to nominate specific individuals for a fast-tracked immigration process. Policies such as the Immigrant Entrepreneur Stream and Express-Entry Streams of the NSNP, shown the Province is open to targeting international graduates as a source of economic and demographic growth.

yearnsnp transtionsfederal transitions
200524.1075.90
200631.4068.60
200738.0062.00
200846.4053.60
200951.1048.90
201050.0050.00
201169.0031.00
201266.7033.30
201385.0015.00
201471.8028.20
201551.0049.00
201676.9023.10

*Transition data for 2016 only includes January to October data

Looking at the shares over time, federal streams produced about 115 new permanent residents a year between 2005 and 2016. The NSNP has become a growing source of new immigrants, increasing to an all-time high of 455 new immigrants in 2016 (January through October) from a low of 35 in 2005.

Looking forward, the federal and provincial governments are cooperating to create a new stream through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot. The NSNP (and similar programs across Atlantic Canada) will expand to include more accommodating eligibility criteria and allow for up to 2,000 additional nominations by the provinces. This program should increase the gross retention number from 2017 onwards, but the retention rate will depend on the growth rate of international students.

Changes to the indicator, baseline, or target:

  • A methodology was established to estimate the retention rate, as no previous methodology existed.
  • Due to data limitations, the denominator for this rate has been changed to reflect the number of international enrolments, rather than graduates. This estimate most closely matches the estimated share expressed in The Report of the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy.
  • To minimize the inclusion of primary and secondary students in the data, Sponsored and Refugee classes of immigrants have been excluded.