By Matt Horwood, photo by Trevor Swann

Universities across Ontario and Canada have seen a spike in applications from the U.S. following Donald Trump’s election victory.

The University of Toronto (U of T) has seen a 70 per cent increase in applications from prospective U.S. students since November compared to this time last year, while McMaster University saw a 34 per cent increase, according to CBC.

Andrew Johnston, a Carleton University American history professor, said there are a few potential reasons why Americans would suddenly find Canada a more attractive place to study.

“Canadian universities have been doing a lot of international recruiting, and with the cost of American education and the value of the Canadian dollar, it makes a lot of economic sense for Americans to look north,” Johnston said.

However, “certainly there appeared to be a strong connection between [the Nov. 8 election] and this increased traffic on Canadian university websites,” he added.

In 2014, Canadian universities intensified recruitment following a federal initiative to double the number of international students by 2022, according to Global Affairs Canada.

Carleton adjunct research professor Victor Konrad, who studies education relations between Canada and the U.S., offered a similar explanation to Johnston.

Konrad said the “phenomenon is perhaps sparked or nudged by the Trump victory,” but other factors, including lower education costs in Canada and a strong U.S. dollar, could explain the rise in applications.

The University of Calgary saw a 130 per cent increase in applications from Americans this year, but also experienced a 15 per cent increase from overseas applicants, according to CBC.

Young people in the U.S. voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton, with 55 per cent of Americans aged 18-29 voting for Clinton compared to 37 per cent for Trump, according to New York Times exit polls, which could factor in why a growing number of young people would want to study elsewhere.

Austin Eddy, a U.S. citizen currently studying in Canada, said he would not go to school in Canada just to escape a Trump presidency.

“I can see why people would want to do that, but I personally wouldn’t switch schools just because of Trump. You can just wait four years and he will probably be gone,” Eddy said.

Janice O’Farrell, Carleton’s director of admissions, said it’s too early to say whether there has been an increase in U.S. admissions at Carleton.

“At this point in time it is too early in the cycle to be able to assess any changes. Students from the U.S. have until June 1 to apply to Carleton for Fall 2017, so we have only just started to receive applications,” O’Farrell said.

Johnston said there have been times when Americans have wanted to leave the country in larger numbers than usual. “It’s not just Trump—there was interest in [leaving the country] in the Bush administration as well,” he said. “In the 1960s, when a combination of civil rights unrest and Vietnam [happened], there were certainly lots of people during the draft who actively fled the country because they disagreed with the draft and didn’t want to fight.”

Traditionally, Canada hasn’t been a popular post-secondary education destination for Americans. In 2014, it drew about 9,000 students from the U.S., according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education. Johnston said it’s hard to tell if rising interest in Canadian universities is long-term, but “it’s not impossible that there would be an influx of American students.”

“I think it would be very interesting to see if it happens over the next couple of years . . . that might depend on what happens in the Trump administration. It’s getting off to a slightly rough start now,” he said.