Following in the footsteps of India, Bangladesh is poised to become a significant source of international students in
the coming years. Bangladesh’s population of 18 to 23 year olds is expected to hit 18 million by 2025, and Bangladesh’s
economy is booming, with over 50 million more Bangladeshis expected to join the middle class by 2030. But Bangladesh’s
domestic education system is not capable of accommodating this influx of post-secondary students.35 This will
lead to strong outbound mobility, with Bangladeshi students looking to study abroad and potentially work towards
permanent residency after graduation.
The surge in the Bangladeshi market has already hit Canada and the US.36 The number of Canadian
post-secondary study permit holders from Bangladesh rose from under 2,000 in 2010 to more than 7,000 in 2020. Similarly,
Bangladeshi student populations at US colleges and universities boomed from 2,800 in 2010 to 8,800 in 2020. By contrast,
the number of Bangladeshi students in the UK remained stable over the same period, at around 3,200.
What drove students from Bangladesh to Canada and the US instead of the UK? One key factor is lower cost of living and
tuition rates. Canada is largely seen as more affordable than other destination markets,37 especially if
students pursue post-secondary education in Atlantic Canada or the Prairie provinces. The US is also seen as less
expensive than the UK, and this perception can make all the difference for price-conscious Bangladeshis. Another leading
factor is word of mouth. Success stories from students who are studying or have studied in Canada and the US have
encouraged more Bangladeshi students to look at Canada and the US as study abroad destinations.