As rattled Americans look to Canada to flee President-elect Donald Trump's presidency, universities north of the border are seeing a flood of traffic by U.S. high school students to enrollment websites, and applications are dramatically up from this time last year.
Kim Bartlett, director of admissions at McGill University in Montreal, tells The Hollywood Reporter her school has received hundreds more applications from U.S. citizens since the Nov. 8 election, which sparked a surge in traffic to websites for future students.
"We saw a lot of traffic on our social media sites the night of the election, as prospective students gave their opinions," Bartlett recalls.
Indeed, Trump's victory in the U.S. election, besides crashing Canada's main immigration website, dramatically shifted the trajectory of enrollment enquiries and applications at Canadian universities.
"A single graduate program website at UBC received 30,000 hits between midnight and 3 a.m. PT after the U.S. election," University of British Columbia president Santa Ono wrote on Twitter a day after the U.S. election. He added that visits to his school's undergraduate website from the U.S. jumped 100 percent between Nov. 6 and 12.
Google Trends also points to a surge in online traffic on Nov. 9 for search terms like "Canadian Universities," "University of Toronto" and "University of British Columbia."
"What we saw in the lead-up to the Nov. 8 election was an increase in traffic from the U.S. to some of our websites, and it peaked on the 9th," says Damara Klaassen, senior director of the international student initiative at University of British Columbia.
The University of Toronto saw traffic to its admissions websites also soar, with nearly 10,000 U.S. visitors clicking onto one website, www.future.utoronto.ca, on Nov. 9. This represented 10 times the traffic received on the same website on Nov. 7.
"Canada is a model for tolerance and inclusivity, and many students are looking for an opportunity to study in that environment," says Richard Levin, executive director enrollment services and registrar at the University of Toronto.
Beyond page visits, the number of applications to Canadian universities from U.S. high schoolers ahead of a Jan. 2017 deadline at major Canadian Universities has also jumped. Preliminary data at the University of Toronto indicates, as of Nov. 20., the school received 339 applications from American students, compared to 213 applications received from the U.S. a year earlier on November 20, 2015.
Elsewhere, UBC president Ono on Nov. 24 tweeted: "The number of undergraduate applications to UBC from U.S. students has increased by 26%, compared to this point in time last year." A UBC spokesperson confirmed that rise in applications, which is ahead of the annual 11 percent rate of growth for applications from the U.S. over the past five years.
The UBC rep cautions, however, that the rise in applications "cannot be entirely attributed to the U.S. election" as the school has been actively recruiting students from south of the border for over 15 years. "It is too early to predict that the increase at this point in time will be sustained throughout the 2016/17 recruitment cycle," the spokesperson added.
McGill's Bartlett agrees more than the U.S. election win is at play. Canada's favorable currency exchange rate, the promise of an Ivy League-level education and a short plane ride home for the holidays also helps young Americans and their bank-rolling parents decide on where they will eventually study, at home or abroad.
Studying in Canada is also far easier than moving here for Americans, and graduating from a Canadian university with in-demand work experience has long been seen as a path to permanent residency, especially if you have relatives north of the border.
To woo more young Americans, the University of Toronto plans two panel discussions stateside in the coming weeks: The first, in New York City on Dec. 13, is entitled "Saving the World: Innovative Sustainable Development at the University of Toronto," and the second, on Dec. 15 in Washington D.C., will be on the topic of "Aftershocks: A Global View on the U.S. Election."