Canada, one of the largest countries in the world is a great place for students of all ages to go to learn and explore. Whether you want to see the snow covered mountains of Quebec or one of the region’s most popular attractions—Niagara Falls, you’ll find that Canada is one country that has plenty of places for you to see and visit. Imagine how living there while you pursue an education may benefit you.
With affordable tuition fees, quality institutions, post-study work and immigration options and welcoming people, it is no surprise that Canada is fast becoming a leading destination for international students.
Canada hosts more than 250,000 international students and has experienced a huge increase in demand from overseas students in recent years.
Canada is known for its natural beauty, clean cities and first-rate healthcare and public transport systems. Canada is generally safe, politically stable and orderly. Although known for a diversity of seasons and temperatures, and even some snow, some parts of Canada, specifically in British Columbia have very mild winters.
Traditionally a country of immigrants, Canadians are proud of their nation’s diversity, with one in three Canadians possessing an ethnic background other than British, French or indigenous.
Generally, as a student living in Canada you can expect a peaceful, multicultural environment with people who are friendly and interested in learning about new cultures. As a bonus, Canada borders the US and offers easy access to travel experiences there.
According to the International Monetary Fund, Canada is among the top 10 wealthiest nations in the world. With its highly regarded education system, dedication to growth and expansion, and strong economic climate, Canada is an ideal location to study for a higher education degree.
Canadians place great importance on learning, and have developed a first-rate education system with high standards. The country spends more on education (as a percentage of GDP) compared to the OECD average, and is the second highest among G-8 countries.
Canadian teenagers consistently rank among the best in the world on international tests of reading, science and math – a testament to the outstanding quality of Canadian schools. A Canadian degree, diploma or certificate is well-regarded in business, government and academic circles around the globe.
- One of the Best Places in the World to Live
Canada has ranked as one of the top ten places to live in the world since 1994 according to the United Nations (UN) and the Economist Intelligence Unit. In the UN survey Canada earned particularly high marks for its access to education, high life expectancy (due to universal health care system); and low crime and violence rates. In addition, Canada’s largest cities — Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal — have been recognized as world class cities in which to live and work, for their cleanliness and safety and for their cultural activities and attractive lifestyles.
- High Standard of Living
Canadians enjoy a standard of living among the highest in the world. Almost 70 per cent of Canadians own their own homes, with a higher percentage owning durable goods, such as automobiles, refrigerators, washing machines, television, telephones and radios. Canada also has an extensive health care system and social security network.
Media, entertainment and artistic endeavors are well-developed in Canada. Canada’s highly sophisticated broadcasting system includes more than 1,900 AM and FM radio stations and some 1387 television stations to serve, entertain and educate the listening and viewing audience. A wide range of cultural activities is also available, including museums, galleries, live theater, dance and music performances and concerts.
- Welcoming Environment
Canada has traditionally been a country of immigrants and has a policy of encouraging multicultural diversity. In this vibrant setting, different perspectives are respected and learning together is encouraged.
Almost all of the world’s ethnic groups are represented in Canada. As a result, most ethnic foods and recreational activities associated with specific cultures are available in Canada. Clubs, informal clubs and associations representing a multitude of ethnic backgrounds are also easily accessible. International student advisors at schools can help students get in touch with such groups.
All major urban centres have a variety of shopping malls, restaurants, theaters, art galleries and museums. Canadian cities provide numerous parks, gardens and beaches for public use, as well as excellent sports and recreation facilities
- Beautiful Environment
Canadians place a high value on their natural environment. There are currently 42 national parks and national park reserves in Canada. National parks are located in every province and territory, and some have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each province and territory has also designated areas as provincial parks, wilderness areas, ecological and nature reserves. There are over 2000 of these designated areas across the country.*
Students who come to Canada will witness one of the most beautiful, natural environments in the world. Canada is also a country of diverse geography, and there is much to experience in its great outdoors: from the lush coastline of British Columbia, the majestic Rocky Mountains of Alberta, the big skies of the prairies, to the ‘maple sugar country’ in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence and the rugged hills and picturesque coastline of the Atlantic provinces.
* National Parks Board and the Federal Provincial Parks Council.
- A Safe Place To Study
Canada is considered to be a relatively peaceful, safe and orderly country. Its violent crime rate decreased for ten consecutive years from 1993 to 2003. Unlike its US neighbors to the south, firearms are strictly controlled and generally are not permitted.
International students who come to Canada should follow the same common sense safety precautions as they would anywhere in the world. Students can contact any Canadian Education Centre to learn more about personal safety, or attend a safety orientation session at their school upon their arrival in Canada.
- A High Tech Country
Canada is a stimulating environment in which to do business and to learn, thanks to the contributions of many bright and talented scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs. The country is an international leader in computer and information technologies and has a reputation for excellence in such sectors as telecommunications, transportation and engineering; and specifically, aerospace, urban transport, microelectronics, medical devices, advanced software, hydroelectric and nuclear power, lasers and opto-electronics, biotechnology, food and beverage processing, geomatics; and ocean and environmental industries.
High points in Canada’s telecommunications industry include Teleglobe’s CANTAT 3 cable, which is the first of its kind in the world, and which supports high-speed and high-capacity delivery of transoceanic, multimedia transmission. The Stentor Alliance of telephone companies invested $8 billion to provide the latest in broadband technology to 80 per cent of Canadian households. Canada was also among the first in the world to recognize the need to connect schools and libraries to the Internet, and its SchoolNet program is being copied around the world. Industry Canada’s SchoolNet has successfully made Canada the first nation in the world to connect its schools and libraries to the Information Highway
- A Bilingual Nation
Canada is a bilingual country with two official languages, English and French. The vast majority (75 per cent) of Canada’s French-speaking inhabitants live in the province of Quebec, which is located in the eastern part of the country but there are French-speaking communities throughout the country.
According to a 2001 census, French is the mother tongue of 81 per cent of Quebec’s population and is spoken at home by 83 per cent of Quebecers.
Internationally, it is estimated that over 1 billion people speak English and over 250 million speak French. As a bilingual nation, Canada offers superior English as a Second Language (ESL) and French as a Second Language (FSL) programs for students wishing to learn either or both languages.
A student can find both publicly funded as well as private universities and other institutions in Canada. There are number choices for a student at different levels – community colleges/ technical institutes, career colleges, language schools, secondary schools, summer camps, universities, university colleges and SPP colleges for Indian students.
Below are the various education levels for students in Canada
- Certificate level, generally for a year
- Diploma level, for one or two years
- Advanced Diploma, generally two or three-year programs
- Bachelor degrees, awarded after four years of full-time study
- Post-graduate Diplomas/Certificates, for one or two years of study
- Master’s degrees, available after a bachelor degree to excel in a certain subject, for one to two years
- Doctorate or PhD, generally four to seven years
The Canadian constitution states that each province has the responsibility of education respective to their province. This means there are significant differences between the education systems of the different provinces. However, education is important to Canadians, and standards across the country are uniformly high.
Early education in Canada starts in the kindergarten at the age of 4 or 5 for 1 or 2 years which is on a voluntary basis. Grade one start at about 6 years of age for all children. A normal school year starts from September through June, but in some cases January intake dates are possible as well.
Grades 11 or 12 are considered secondary schools depending on the province. After secondary schools students may opt for university courses or college diplomas
High Quality Education
Canadian education institutions are not officially ranked in Canada but all of the institutions are of highest standards of quality. The type, size and locations are 3 things one needs to consider when choosing an education institution for studying in Canada. Best bet is to in research which institution has more to offer in your area of study, and also check the history of that particular department of in that institution.
Tuition fees in Canada
In general, tuition fees in Canada are less expensive compared to other major Anglophone destinations (the US, UK and Australia), but still higher than most other countries. Average tuition fees in Canada for international undergraduate students start at about CA$14,000 (about US$10,735) per year. Universities in Canada set their own fees, and the cost of study also depends on the type of course and the subject – tuition fees in Canada for arts and humanities students tend to be at the lower end of the scale, with subjects such as engineering and medicine students among the more expensive.
The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) runs a useful online tool which allows prospective international students to quickly calculate the costs of studying at different universities in Canada, as well as providing guidance on the documents needed to apply.
Financial aid to study in Canada
Scholarships, grants, and bursaries are available for international students wishing to study in Canada, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. These include specific scholarships for sporting and academic achievement, and subject-specific scholarships. You might also be able to apply for a scholarship offered exclusively by the university at which you plan to study. In all cases, it’s important to apply as early as possible as scholarship funding is limited and highly competitive. International applicants are also advised to research study abroad scholarship opportunities offered by organizations in their home country.
In Canada a student visa is often referred to as a ‘study permit’.
The following six steps outline how IEAVS will guide you through the process of applying for a study permit in Canada.
Step 1: Visa advice
Step 2: Collate visa documents
Your IEAVS counselor will check all the documents you collate in support of your application for a study permit to Canada. The general sets of documents you will require for your study permit application comprises:
- Passport-size photographs
- Unconditional letter of acceptance
- Fees receipt (recommended)
- Scholarship letter (if applicable)
- Any relevant correspondence with the institution
- Financial documents
- Academic documents
- Test scores
- Work experience certificates (if applicable)
- Medical report (if already undertaken).
Your IEAVS counselor will assist you to complete the study permit application forms.
Step 3: Check provincial guidelines.
Step 4: Submit application through VFS Canada.
Step 5: Provide additional information or documents.
Step 6: Let you know the decision on your study permit application.
In Canada, work rights are available to international students while studying and also upon finishing a degree or diploma.
During your studies
Canada recently announced new regulations for international students. As of June, 2014, students do not need to apply for a separate work visa to work off-campus, and are eligible to work as soon as their program of study begins.
Canada provides extensive work and career opportunities for all types of students. Many institutions in Canada offer a co-operative education program. This is a structured program where students alternate between periods of work and study. This integrated curriculum is achieved through a partnership between the educational institution and industry.
International graduates from Canadian higher education institutions also have the opportunity to work in Canada for up to three years following the completion of their program.
To work in Canada after you graduate, you must apply for a work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP). If you would like to look into staying in Canada as a permanent resident after you finish your studies, there are several programs available, each with its own requirements.
In Canada, each province or territory manages its own healthcare system, which covers the costs of Canadian citizens’ visits to hospitals and doctors. Virtually all Canadian tertiary institutions have medical insurance plans available for international students.