ApplyInsights: The Most Popular Schools in Canada for Indian Students

In this edition of ApplyInsights, I’m sharing my observations on the top schools in Canada for Indian students. India is the number one source country for Canadian post-secondary institutions, accounting for more than a third of study permits issued in 2019. So it’s no surprise that many of Canada’s colleges and universities have large Indian student populations. 

A 2020 edition of this list is now available! Check out our blog post on the most popular schools in Canada for Indian students in 2020 and see how the pandemic changed new Indian student enrollment at Canadian colleges and universities.

Here’s what this blog post will cover:

  • Brief snapshots of some of the top and colleges and universities in Canada by new study permits issued to Indian nationals in 2019
  • The full list of the top 30 schools for Indian enrollment in Canada in 2019
  • How ApplyBoard is helping many of those schools attract stronger applicants

I’m very excited to be sharing some of our internal ApplyBoard data in today’s ApplyInsights. I’ll be pointing out some of our partner schools that appear in these lists and the success we’ve had increasing their approval rates for Indian students. 

It’s an honour to get to work with so many of these schools to educate the world!  

Top Colleges in Canada for Indian Students

In my deep dive on study permit trends in Ontario, we saw that nearly half of the Indian students in Canada studied at Ontario colleges in 2019. In fact, the top eight schools for Indian students in Canada are all Ontario public colleges, as are 19 of the top 30.1 Let’s take a look at the top five.

  1. Conestoga College: Kitchener, Ontario-based Conestoga College was the number one choice for Indian students in 2019 by a considerable margin. 7,561 Indian nationals began their studies at Conestoga last year, almost 50% more students than the next most popular school.2 The college more than tripled its intake for Indian students from 2017 to 2019.Figure contrasting the overall study permit approval rate for Indian students applying to Conestoga College (68.6%) with the approval rate through ApplyBoard (80.0%).
  2. St. Clair College: Headquartered in Windsor, Ontario, St. Clair College added 5,161 new Indian students in 2019. St. Clair also saw significant growth, more than doubling its intake of Indian students between 2017 and 2019.Figure contrasting the overall study permit approval rate for Indian students applying to St. Clair College (63.1%) with the approval rate through ApplyBoard (84.0%).
  3. Lambton College: The Sarnia, Ontario-based school added 4,655 new Indian students in 2019. This represented a 37.8% drop in new Indian enrollment for Lambton College over the previous two years. The school was the number one destination in Canada for Indian students as recently as 2017.
  4. Northern College: A smaller school with just 1,700 full-time students,3 Northern College’s position as a leader in Indian enrollment reflects its strong focus on international recruitment. The Northeastern Ontario school issued 3,766 new study permits to Indian nationals in 2019, including many part-time students.
  5. Centennial College: Like Lambton, Centennial College saw its new enrollment numbers for Indian students decline between 2017 and 2019. The Toronto-based school added 3,721 new Indian students last year, a 21.2% drop from 2017. 

A trio of private colleges also cracked the top 30 schools for Indian enrollment:

  1. CDI College: 2,183 new Indian students enrolled at one of CDI College’s 23 campuses across Canada last year. CDI, which offers business, technology, and health programs, grew its enrollment by over 2,000 students in just two years. 
  2. Herzing College: Herzing College saw 1,879 new Indian students pass through its doors in 2019. Like CDI, Herzing saw a massive increase from 2017 numbers, when it welcomed just 35 new Indian students. Its Montreal campuses are eligible for Canada’s post-graduation work permit (PGWP) program, making them particularly attractive destinations for international students.
  3. Matrix College: 1,066 new Indian students enrolled at Montreal’s Matrix College last year, up from just 27 in 2017. It also offers PGWP-eligible programs. 

Top Universities in Canada for Indian Students

Let’s turn now to the top five public universities in Canada for Indian students. Despite the skew in the Indian student market toward college, all five of these schools finished among the top 30 schools for new Indian student enrollment in the country. 

  1. University of Windsor: The University of Windsor led the way among universities in 2019, with 1,712 new Indian students. This marked a 45% increase since 2017. With both the University of Windsor and St. Clair College among Canada’s leaders in Indian enrollment, the city of Windsor, Ontario, is one of the top destinations for Indian students in the country. 
  2. Cape Breton University: Located on Nova Scotia’s scenic Cape Breton Island, Cape Breton University welcomed 1,328 new Indian students through its doors in 2019. This was a 275% increase in Indian enrollment from 2017. 
  3. Kwantlen Polytechnic University: One of six public universities located in the Metro Vancouver area, Kwantlen Polytechnic University issued a new study permit to 1,305 Indian nationals last year. This represented a 40% decline from 2017 enrollment, when it was the number one university in the country.
  4. University of Regina: 1,083 new Indian students enrolled at the University of Regina in 2019. This marked a 225% increase in enrollment over 2017. Figure contrasting the overall study permit approval rate for Indian students applying to the University of Regina (44.6%) with the approval rate through ApplyBoard (69.8%).
  5. Algoma University: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario-based Algoma University’s Indian student population exploded between 2017 and 2019, growing from just 8 students to 1,059. This remarkable growth is even more impressive in light of the fact that Algoma is Ontario’s smallest university. Figure contrasting the overall study permit approval rate for Indian students applying to Algoma University (59.7%) with the approval rate through ApplyBoard (78.8%).

A pair of private universities also made the top 30:

  1. Yorkville University: Together with its affiliate, the Toronto Film School, Yorkville University enrolled 2,701 new Indian students in 2019. This was tops in the country among all universities. Yorkville has campuses in Vancouver, Toronto, and Fredericton, New Brunswick. It added more than 2,500 students between 2017 and 2019.
  2. University Canada West: The business-oriented, Vancouver-based University Canada West issued 1,414 study permits to Indian nationals in 2019. This represented more than 700% growth over the previous two years. Figure contrasting the overall study permit approval rate for Indian students applying to University Canada West (52.3%) with the approval rate through ApplyBoard (78.1%).

Top 30 Schools in Canada for Indian Students

We see that despite the dominance of Ontario colleges, many universities and colleges across Canada have large Indian populations. Here’s the full top 30: 

Top 30 Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions by New Indian Student Enrollment, 2019
Rank Institution # of Study Permits Approval Rate
1 Conestoga College 7,561 68.6%
2 St. Clair College 5,161 63.1%
3 Lambton College 4,655 84.5%
4 Northern College 3,766 74.1%
5 Centennial College 3,721 84.8%
6 Sheridan College 3,357 86.7%
7 Fanshawe College 2,891 82.3%
8 Seneca College 2,887 81.7%
9 Yorkville University 2,701 47.0%
10 Canadore College 2,390 82.3%
11 Humber College 2,320 82.4%
12 CDI College 2,183 49.5%
13 Georgian College 2,051 83.8%
14 Cambrian College 1,896 73.0%
15 Herzing College 1,879 46.8%
16 Fleming College 1,776 81.8%
17 St. Lawrence College 1,729 80.9%
18 University of Windsor 1,712 89.6%
19 Langara College 1,595 91.3%
20 University Canada West 1,414 52.3%
21 Mohawk College 1,330 76.7%
22 Cape Breton University 1,328 70.0%
23 Kwantlen Polytechnic University 1,305 89.6%
24 Loyalist College 1,248 74.0%
25 Algonquin College 1,207 81.3%
26 Niagara College 1,200 67.7%
27 University of Regina 1,083 44.6%
28 Matrix College 1,066 57.5%
29 Algoma University 1,059 59.7%
30 Sault College 1,031 49.1%

Increasing Approval Rates with ApplyBoard

ApplyBoard is proud to work with many of these schools to help them recruit Indian students. Growing international student enrollment starts with attracting strong applicants. And as the only artificial intelligence (AI)-based platform matching students with study abroad opportunities around the world, ApplyBoard is uniquely positioned to help institutions do exactly that. 

The proof is in the data. ApplyBoard partner schools have consistently raised their study permit approval rates 10 to 30% when working with ApplyBoard students. Here’s just a sample of the results we’ve delivered for some of our partner schools: 

Bar chart contrasting the overall study permit approval rate for Indian students applying to selected colleges with their approval rate through ApplyBoard.

It’s no coincidence that these five schools cracked the top 30 list, and we look forward to helping them continue to build diverse, international campuses and communities.

Looking Forward

The top 30 list drives home the size of the Indian student market in Canada, with every institution on the list issuing 1,000+ new study permits to Indian nationals last year. 

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically reduced the number of Indian students enrolling in Canadian institutions. As of June 30, just 8.4% of the total number of study permits issued to Indian students in 2019 had been issued in 2020. We’ve also seen a large drop in approval rate, with the average for the top 30 schools falling from 70.3% in 2019 to 51.2% over the first half of 2020.

Nevertheless, there’s cause for optimism for a few reasons:

  1. The Canadian government has taken critical policy steps to support international students. These include significant changes to PGWP eligibility, which is a key piece of the value proposition of studying in Canada for Indian nationals. 
  2. In our survey of recruitment agents on the impact of COVID-19 on their business, agents ranked Canada above Australia, the UK, and the US for its handling of the pandemic. This leaves Canada well positioned relative to those other countries.
  3. Q3 typically sees a large volume of applications come in, and at ApplyBoard, we’ve seen a huge uptick in Indian submissions over the last month.

With these factors in mind, and in light of the overwhelming interest among Indian students in studying in Canada, I have no doubt that the Indian student market will return strong—and that the schools listed above will drive the recovery. Keep an eye on ApplyInsights in the coming weeks for a deeper dive on the impact of COVID-19 on Canada’s Indian student market.

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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. He leads the International Recruitment, Partner Relations, and Marketing teams at ApplyBoard, working to make education accessible to people around the world. Meti has been instrumental in building partnerships with 1,200+ educational institutions across North America and the United Kingdom. Working with over 4,000 international recruitment partners, ApplyBoard has assisted over 100,000 students in their study abroad journey. Follow Meti on LinkedIn for more access to ApplyInsights and key industry trends.


1. All schools ranked by number of new study permits issued to Indian nationals 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.
3. Source: Bay Today, Apr. 30, 2020.