Political Tensions between Canada and Saudi Arabia Represent the Three Wave of International Students

The diplomatic and political tussle between Saudi Arabia and Canada is going to disrupt the lives and educational ambitions of Saudi student. It will also hurt enrollments of Canadian universities hosting Saudi students. This political turbulence is characteristics of the Third Wave of international student mobility which has already affected the UK with Brexit and the US with the Presidential elections. After the drastic reduction of Saudi Government’s scholarship program, many American universities have already experienced the risky scenario of decline in enrollment due to dependency on Saudi government.

Students from Saudia Arabia formed 3.15% of total international student enrollment in Canadian universities and colleges according to UNESCO data of 2017.

Top-10 Source Countries of International Students to Canada

Int’l Students in Canada Enrollment
China 60,936
India 19,905
France 15,603
United States 8,355
Nigeria 5,982
Saudi Arabia 5,979
Korea, Rep. 4,743
Iran, Islamic Rep. 3,735
Pakistan 2,658
China, Hong Kong 2,076

Source: UNESCO (2017)

International Enrollment Trends of Saudi Arabian Students


Year Saudi Students
% Increase
2017 85,277 0%
2016 85,288 -1%
2015 86,223 2%
2014 84,177 12%
2013 74,855 16%
2012 64,378 25%
2011 51,352

Source: UNESCO

Top-10 Countries Enrolling Saudi Students

Country Enrollment
United States 53,637
United Kingdom 8,469
Canada 5,979
Australia 4,387
United Arab Emirates 1,983
Jordan 1,727
Malaysia 1,066
Bahrain 1,017
Ireland 915
Poland 850

Source: UNESCO

Dr. Rahul Choudaha