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In 1985 the Commonwealth government passed a law allowing government education providers to enrol privately funded students from overseas.

The Principal of Canning College at that time, Mr Jim Casey, saw a great opportunity to provide domestic and international students with an "international experience". Canning College staff went on marketing visits to Malaysia and Singapore in 1985 and enrolled 90 students for the 1986 Year 12 (then called TEE) program.

In January 1986 Australia's first orientation for fee-paying international students studying at any government provider was held. Canning College was a pioneer and many other institutions have followed since. From that small beginning, international programs at Canning College have grown to include:

  • WACE Year 11 and Year 12
  • WA Universities' Foundation Program
  • Bridging programs
  • Diploma of Commerce programs
  • Certificate IV programs

Student support services dedicated to serve the special interests have developed since 1986 and include:

  • student village
  • cafeteria serving western and Asian style foods
  • specialist international student advisors
  • overseas student health insurances
  • accommodation services
  • academic and personal support services

In 2017, Canning College hosted about 400 international students from about 12 different countries. Domestic and international students benefit from the cultural interactions as they share the common experience of striving for entry into university level studies.

Since 1986, international students have gained places in WA universities - The University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Murdoch University and Edith Cowan University - as well as other Australian universities such as University of Melbourne, Australian National University, Monash University, RMIT, UNSW, University of Sydney, University of Queensland, University of Tasmania and University of South Australia. Students have also gained places in universities outside of Australia - New Zealand, UK, USA, Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia and Germany. Canning College students have enrolled in all course areas including medicine, law, engineering, arts, commerce, health sciences, physical sciences and others.

Canning College's international programs have responded to many changes and challenges. In 2019, Canning College became the Western Australian State Government's preferred provider for International students. The strong culture of internationalisation now built into Canning College's campus life will contribute to the continuation of a strong education program which embraces a significant international component.

Canning College provides a strong return on educational investment as students progress to universities throughout Australia and careers throughout the world.