Why more South Africans are moving to this country to study

Immigration consultant Nicholas Avramis says students from South Africa are increasingly looking at a move to Canada to continue their education.

He cited a recent study that indicates a 70% spike in local students heading to Canada to study.

Speaking to Talk Radio 702, Avramis, the managing director of Beaver Immigration Consulting, said that Canada offers a three-year open work permit to foreign students following graduation.

“South Africans are adventurous people and they travel all over the world, for education,” he said. Canadian education at a post-secondary level is that upon graduating, students are offered a three-year open work permit to find work anywhere in the country.

Further, after a year, students can apply for permanent residency. “Other countries just don’t offer that,” he said, adding that after two years, students can then apply for citizenship.

The immigration expert said that Canada has a wide variety of institutions for foreign students – in excess of 10,000 programs. “A lot of South Africans we see are going into tech, coding, and software engineering college programmes.”

Avramis said that Canada has a big brain drain, losing many graduates to the United States….leaving a big gap for tech graduates in the country.

Immigration data from Statistics Canada showed that the rate of South Africans entering Canada was accelerating prior to the Covid pandemic, said Avramis.

Between 2015 and 2020 over 25,000 South Africans obtained either temporary status, permanent residency or citizenship in Canada. And between 2015 and 2019 there was a 67.3% increase in South Africans obtaining permanent residency and a 75% increase in the number of study permits.

The demand for tertiary education in South Africa is exceptionally high, and always escalating, noted BrandMapp. Public institutions have been over-subscribed for many years, and while private tertiary institutions are mushrooming, the costs of tertiary education remain a formidable barrier to entry unless you are part of the mid to top-income level South Africans.

A survey of more than 33,000 middle-class South Africans by BrandMapp, living in households with a R10 000+ monthly income, has presented unique insights into the education landscape of this 30% segment of the population that represents 100% of the country’s taxpaying base and 80% of all consumer spend.

The value of tertiary education to this segment, which is comprised of 12 million adults of 18 years and up, is clear. According to BrandMapp 2021, 70% have a tertiary education with 42% of them holding degrees. The remaining 30% may either still be studying or don’t have a reason to.

Brandon de Kock, BrandMapp director of storytelling, said: “In step with global concepts such as the importance of continuing education and lifelong learning, we see that middle-class South Africans embrace the value of education with 75% of all adults expressing an interest in studying further.

“If we include those who say they are undecided about further studies, then the total potential adult educational market is a whopping 85% which should light up fires under tertiary education and EdTech brands.”

“It’s worth drilling down into the BrandMapp data, and especially taking a closer look at the education channels that these ongoing learners think about. Not surprisingly, UNISA, the pioneer of South African distance learning, is an option of choice for 40% of these adults who want to study further,” said De Kock.

“This is almost matched by 37% who look to our brick-and-mortar universities and colleges. Online options for further studies are well-considered. But what’s interesting here is the 12% who say they would seriously consider studying abroad. 12% might not sound like that much, but it represents more than 1.24 million South Africans who either plan, work towards or dream of international studies.”

Heidi Sulcas from The Learner’s Journey, who is also the Editor of University Speaking, the South African Guide to Overseas Study said that approximately 12,000 South Africans are actually studying overseas, according to the International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA) in March 2020.

“I have experienced a sizeable uptick in interest over the last year for information on international education. When I counsel learners who have come to me looking for international opportunities, the conversation begins around the ‘what am I going to be when I finish my degree?’ but quickly drifts toward ‘becoming someone not something’ during the process of their pursuit of higher education.

“The opportunity for the international experience can have a marked effect on a learner if they embrace the opportunity for the privilege that it is to grow themselves in the international context,” Sulcas said.

An important part of that opportunity could well be the idea of using international education as a means of fulfilling a different ambition: leaving South Africa. “Although they might not be able to actually do it, we know from BrandMapp that 27% of adults say they would like to emigrate in the next five years,” said de Kock.


Read: Skilled people are leaving South Africa – here’s where they are going

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Why more South Africans are moving to this country to study