Canada has always been among the top study abroad destinations for international students. It offers high-quality education that fits into the wallet, along with the perks of diverse culture, excellent lifestyle, and dependable safety. The popularity of the country has soared during the pandemic, even when other destinations like Australia and New Zealand have taken a serious blow. The favourable government policy response to the current situation is the major reason for this popularity boom.

The Canadian government’s stance on international education is loud and clear. International students can enter Canada despite the pandemic, provided they fulfil certain criteria. The situation is diagonally opposite from that in Australia and New Zealand, where things are bleak for study abroad aspirants. Even as Australia has come up with pilot plans to facilitate the return, the situation is still dicey. It is vital to delve deeper into the difference between the policies of the two countries. But we must also see how Canada shows the way to other countries planning to revive the international education sector in the new normal.


Canada has been one of the forerunners with border reopening, lifting curbs for international students on October 20, 2020. It came as a welcome move for study abroad aspirants disappointed by the strict restrictions by Australia and New Zealand. Designated learning institutions (DLI) in the country must follow an approved COVID-19 readiness plan to get international students back. The action is a part of the federal government’s initiative to get students from overseas back to the country.

Conversely, Australia’s borders are closed since March 2020, and there is no assurance of reopening yet. Even as South Australia’s plan for international students’ return has a nod from the Australian federal government, apprehensions are rife. The country has shelved pilot plans due to COVID-19 outbreaks before, and the current Delta Plus threat opens the risk yet again.


Another impressive move that sets the Canadian model apart is the relaxation of quarantine guidelines. It is great news for international students because they can save a fortune by skipping the mandatory 14-day stay at an expensive accommodation. According to the latest guidelines for phased reopening, fully vaccinated students need not quarantine if they test negative upon arrival. 

The measures will be implemented beginning July 5, making it the right time to land here to pursue study abroad goals. Further, students will also not require an additional COVID-19 test on day-8 after arrival. They will have to test only twice, three days before arrival and upon arrival. Once a negative result is confirmed on the second test, students can start with their study abroad plans in the country.


Canada also shows the way with the easier vaccination norms for international students. They can even enter the country without being vaccinated, provided that they test thrice (before departure, upon arrival, and on day-8) and quarantine upon arrival. Vaccinated students must validate the complete dose of the government-approved vaccines at least 14 days before arrival.

The Canadian government has approved five vaccines for use at present. These include Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen, and COVISHIELD Verity/Serum Institute of India (SII). The vaccination proof must be in English or French, complete with the name of the vaccination brand and date of vaccination. Australia lags behind on this front too, as it has currently approved only two vaccines, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech.


The Canadian government is known for encouraging immigration and embracing people from different parts of the world with aplomb. It has taken the approach a notch higher amid the pandemic, opening new long-term opportunities for international students pursuing higher education in the country. The changes in the Post Graduate Work Permit Programme (PGWP) make a tangible step in this direction.

According to these changes, international students can complete their studies online from their countries without affecting their PGWP eligibility. Further, the government also launched a new pathway to permanent residence for as many as 40,000 international graduates. The move came as recognition for their contribution to the social and economic landscape of the country.

The Canadian government has done its bit for international students struggling with the pandemic. As a result, they have started seeing the country as an ideal destination. Countless aspirants originally bound for Sydney are now looking forward to alternative offers at Canadian universities for valid reasons. Countries like the US and UK are also taking a cue and embracing measures to make things more conducive for international students struggling to keep their study abroad hopes alive.

The phenomenon seems to be here to stay as experts are reticent about the reopening of Australia and New Zealand borders till early 2022. Both countries are clear laggards, but students have an incredible option in Canada, where prospects seem to be brighter than ever.

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