ApplyInsights: The Most Popular Schools in Canada for Vietnamese and Filipino Students

In this edition of ApplyInsights, I’m sharing my observations on the top post-secondary institutions in Canada for Vietnamese and Filipino students. Vietnam and the Philippines are firmly among the second tier of source countries for Canadian schools: well behind India and China in terms of volume, but still critical sources of students for schools aiming to diversify their student populations.

Vietnam and the Philippines are also the top source countries for the Southeast Asia region, an area where many schools are working to grow their enrollment. 

Here’s what this blog post will cover:

  • Brief snapshots of the colleges and universities in Canada that issued the most study permits to Vietnamese and Filipino nationals in 20191
  • The full list of the top 15 schools for Vietnamese and Filipino enrollment in 2019
  • Study permit approval rates for those schools for 2019

Many of the schools below are ApplyBoard partner schools. It’s an honour to get to work with these schools in recruiting students from Vietnam and the Philippines!

Top Colleges for Vietnamese Students

In my deep dive on study permit trends in Ontario, we saw that more than half of the Vietnamese students in Canada studied in Ontario in 2019. With Vietnam primarily a college market, it’s no surprise that seven of the top 10 schools for Vietnamese students in Canada are Ontario public colleges.2

Honing in even further, we can see that four of the top five colleges are located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), while the other is in Metro Vancouver. Location is a top consideration for Vietnamese students looking to study in Canada, with many attracted to large, cosmopolitan cities. While a number of smaller or regional institutions have managed to tap into the massive Indian market, many are still working to make inroads in Vietnam. 

Let’s take a look at those top 5 colleges:

  1. George Brown College: Toronto’s George Brown College was the number one choice for Vietnamese students in 2019, with 1,038 study permits issued. This was more than twice as many as any other Canadian post-secondary institution. George Brown grew its Vietnamese population 13.3% between 2017 and 2019, ahead of the 9.0% average for all schools.
  2. Seneca College: Also located in the GTA, Seneca College saw 519 study permits issued to Vietnamese students last year. This represented 67.4% growth over the previous two years, including a 56.5% spike in 2018. 
  3. Humber College: 436 Vietnamese students were issued a study permit for Toronto’s Humber College last year. While good enough for third in the country, this actually represented a 18.5% decline from 2017 numbers. 
  4. Centennial College: Ontario’s oldest college, Centennial College saw 331 study permits issued to Vietnamese nationals last year. This was down a whopping 49.3% from 2017. Centennial lost a net 325 Vietnamese students between 2018 and 2019, primarily from its English language training programs, as Vietnamese enrollment in ESL programs declined across the country. 
  5. Douglas College: Douglas College, located in Metro Vancouver, saw 320 study permits issued to Vietnamese students in 2019. Vietnamese enrollment at Douglas crept up 10.0% in 2019 following a 15.2% drop in 2018.

Top Universities for Vietnamese Students

Let’s turn now to the top five public universities in Canada for Vietnamese students. Despite the skew in the Vietnamese student market toward college, all five of these schools finished among the top 25 schools for Vietnamese students in Canada. 

  1. (tie) University of Manitoba: The University of Manitoba saw 127 study permits issued to Vietnamese students in 2019, tying it with York University for the most among universities. An additional 71 students enrolled at the International College of Manitoba, a private college on the University of Manitoba campus offering pathways to degree programs at the university.
  1. (tie) York University: Toronto’s York University tied the University of Manitoba with 127 study permits issued to Vietnamese students in 2019. This marked a 67.1% increase in York’s Vietnamese enrollment between 2017 and 2019.
  1. Simon Fraser University: One of six public universities in Metro Vancouver, Simon Fraser University saw 119 study permits issued to Vietnamese students last year, up 43.4% over the previous two years.
  2. Ryerson University: Ryerson University, located in the heart of downtown Toronto, saw 115 study permits issued to Vietnamese students in 2019. This was more than double the school’s 2017 enrollment.
  3. Cape Breton University: Located on Nova Scotia’s scenic Cape Breton Island, Cape Breton University welcomed 93 Vietnamese study permit holders through its doors in 2019. Like Ryerson, this represented more than double the school’s Vietnamese population in 2017.

Top 15 Schools in Canada for Vietnamese Students

Below is the list of the top 15 schools in Canada for Vietnamese students in 2019, including the study permit approval rate for each institution:

Top 15 Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions for Vietnamese Students, 2019
Rank Institution # of Study Permits Approval Rate
1 George Brown College 1,038 45.8%
2 Seneca College 519 61.4%
3 Humber College 436 51.5%
4 Centennial College 331 44.9%
5 Douglas College 320 64.7%
6 Algonquin College 251 52.4%
7 Sheridan College 225 48.0%
8 Fanshawe College 217 43.5%
9 Langara College 201 50.8%
10 Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) 189 49.4%
11 Niagara College 137 27.9%
12 International Academy of Canada (ILAC) 135 18.9%
13 Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) 134 13.9%
14 British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) 132 34.9%
15t University of Manitoba 127 56.1%
15t York University 127 81.6%
t Denotes a tie

Top Colleges for Filipino Students

Let’s turn to the Philippines. Even more than the Vietnamese market, the Filipino international student market in Canada is dominated by college studies, with college students outnumbering university students 10 to 1 in 2019. In fact, just one university, the University of British Columbia, ranked among the top 25 post-secondary institutions for Filipino students in Canada last year. 

Due to this discrepancy, we’ll focus on college numbers for the Filipino section of this article. Here are the top five colleges for Filipino students in Canada:

  1. Centennial College: Centennial College saw 591 study permits issued to Filipino students in 2019, tops among all Canadian post-secondary institutions by a comfortable margin. This marked a 500% increase over 2017 numbers.
  2. Fanshawe College: London, Ontario’s Fanshawe College was next, with 448 study permits issued to Filipino students last year. This represented a massive increase over 2017, when just 15 Filipino students enrolled at the college.
  3. Seneca College: 308 Filipino students were issued a study permit for Seneca College last year. The Toronto-based school also saw huge growth between 2017 and 2019, with Filipino enrollment up more than 350% over the period.
  4. Niagara College: The leader in Filipino enrollment as recently as 2017, Welland, Ontario’s Niagara College doubled its Filipino student contingent between then and 2019, to 301 students. However, Niagara still lost ground amid the explosive growth at many of the other top schools.
  5. Bow Valley College: Bow Valley College saw 163 Filipino students receive study permits in 2019, up 120% over 2017. The Alberta college has six campuses located in and around Calgary.

Top 15 Schools in Canada for Filipino Students

Here’s the list of the top 15 schools in Canada for Filipino students in 2019:

Top 15 Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions for Filipino Students, 2019
Rank Institution # of Study Permits Approval Rate
1 Centennial College 591 63.1%
2 Fanshawe College 448 64.7%
3 Seneca College 308 69.2%
4 Niagara College 301 76.2%
5 Bow Valley College 163 54.2%
6 Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) 153 54.8%
7 Arbutus College 139 74.4%
8 Conestoga College 119 77.3%
9 Canadore College 118 67.4%
10 George Brown College 93 64.2%
11 Anderson College 90 53.7%
12 Humber College 88 62.1%
13t Acsenda School of Management 78 49.2%
13t Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) 78 55.7%
15 New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) 73 51.6%
t Denotes a tie

Looking Forward

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically reduced the number of Vietnamese and Filipino students enrolling in Canadian institutions. 

While Vietnam’s comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation measures have successfully limited the virus’s spread in the country, the application numbers we’re seeing on the ApplyBoard Platform, and conversations with our recruitment partners in the country, suggest students remain reluctant to go abroad. I suspect we’re seeing a large uptick in Vietnamese students electing for domestic study. 

In the Philippines, the country’s struggle to control the virus, and the economic slump that’s followed, has put many students’ plans on indefinite hold. However, at ApplyBoard, we’ve seen stronger numbers out of the Philippines than many other countries in 2020, particularly over the last few months. 

I remain optimistic that both markets will recover alongside the larger Canadian international student market, helped by key government policy changes that have placed international students at the forefront. When they do, the schools listed above will be well positioned to reap the benefits.

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Meti BasiriMeti Basiri
Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Meti is driven by the belief that education is a right, not a privilege. In his role as Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at ApplyBoard, he leads the International Recruitment, Partner Relations, Sales Enablement, Sales Operations, and Marketing teams along a shared mission to educate the world. Meti has been instrumental in building partnerships with 1,200+ educational institutions across North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Working with over 4,000 international recruitment partners, ApplyBoard has assisted more than 120,000 students in their study abroad journey.

Meti was honoured in 2019 by Forbes, being named to three Top 30 Under 30 lists, including Education, Immigrants, and Big Money. Follow Meti on LinkedIn for more access to ApplyInsights and key industry trends.


1. All schools ranked by number of new study permits plus study permit extensions issued in the 2019 calendar year. Totals include enrollment at satellite campuses and federated colleges.
2. All data courtesy of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), except where indicated.