Why Canada’s PBSA sector is a great opportunity for investors

Canada’s popularity with international students has skyrocketed in recent years, and now it’s time for PBSA investors to enter the market. BONARD research examines data that shows why Canada is one of the most attractive countries to invest in.

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When Canada set a goal in its 2014 International Education Strategy to host more than 450,000 international students by 2022, few would have imagined that goal would be surpassed five years early.

However, by the end of 2017 Canada was already hosting almost half a million study permit holders. Since then, its popularity has only continued to rise, with the total number of study permit holders in the country standing at over 800,000 in 2022, according to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

But great popularity inevitably brings with it certain logistical problems.

Research highlights:

  1. Student numbers

    International student numbers in Canada are expected to keep rising in the future.

  2. Supply gap

    The purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) supply gap in the major student cities in Canada is substantial.

  3. Occupancy rates

    BONARD data shows occupancy rates are close to 100% in private PBSA across the cities surveyed.

  4. Main concerns

    International education sector experts are concerned that, unless the supply pipeline picks up pace, a shortage of student accommodation might hurt Canada’s popularity with international students.

  5. Possible solutions

    Stakeholders think that public–private partnerships between universities and developers could contribute to solving the current accommodation shortage.

“When a country or a region is way behind in a sector and it starts waking up, there is an opportunity, and it’s not just for growth: it’s an opportunity to create something built on the experience of others, like Europe or Australia. It’s an opportunity to leapfrog ahead." 

Gonzalo Peralta
Executive Director
Languages Canada 


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Key outcomes from the BONARD report - which included inputs from leading industry specialists – are publicly available.

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