Canada has become the most popular country in the world for international students, says a survey conducted in more than 50 countries. Two in five international students rate Canada as their first choice for higher education, according to IDP Connect’s fall poll of 3,600 study-visa holders. That’s more than double the proportion that picked the next highest-ranked nations — Britain, the U.S. or Australia. A majority of students who choose Canada as their top option said a key reason was being allowed to work while studying, says IDP, as well as the relative affordability of tuition fees, given most of the country’s universities and colleges are subsidized by taxpayers. The Canadian Bureau for International Education adds that 60 per cent of foreign students in Canada, more than half of whom come from India or China, want to apply to become permanent residents — an option not available in most countries. Given the competition in the West for foreign students, some specialists are skeptical about Ottawa’s increasingly eye-catching efforts to appeal to the estimated six million students in the world who are going abroad for their educations. Higher education experts question why Canada appears to be the only nation that has given foreign students social-assistance payments during COVID. They also ask about Canada’s unusual decision to allow students almost unlimited opportunities to work while ostensibly studying. Analysis: Some higher-education specialists are skeptical about Ottawa’s increasingly eye-catching efforts to lure international students.