Canada often takes a backseat to the US and the UK as a study destination for international students. Yet the number of international students in Canada has been rising steadily over the last decade. Between 2008 and 2015, the number of foreign students in Canada increased by 92%. The 2016 edition of A World of Learning: Canada’s Performance and Potential in International Education reports that there were 353,570 international students in Canada in 2015. Interestingly, while 26 % of UAE students abroad study in the US, only about 3% choose to study in Canada. A similar trend is visible in Saudi Arabia – of all Saudi students who choose to study overseas, only 5% study in Canada, while more than 50% choose to attend university in the US.
So why don’t more students choose to study in Canada?
Canadian higher education institutions have a strong educational reputation worldwide, and overall Canada offers the most affordable option for university studies compared to the the US, the UK, and Australia. Here are some reasons to explore Canadian universities as a viable option after high school:
Globally Ranked Quality Education
University of Toronto
On the QS World Report of top global universities for the year 2018, U of T was ranked number 31. Located in Canada’s largest city, the university is famed for its research innovations, including the discoveries of insulin and stem cells.
The 2018 QS World Report saw McGill losing its place as the number one Canadian university- it is now ranked 32nd in the world. Located in Montréal, McGill has around 40,000 students, of which 25% are international. It has the highest number of Rhodes scholars and Nobel Prize winners among any Canadian university. McGill has a long list of notable professors and alumni, including John MacLeod who first identified DNA as the building blocks of genetics, and went on to serve as a senior science advisor to U.S. presidents Kennedy and Johnson, Thomas Chang, who constructed the world’s first artificial blood cells, Roger Tomlinson who invented Geographic Information System (GIS), which now drives Google Maps, and Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics.
U of T and McGill are globally ranked ahead of famed US universities like UCLA, London School of Economics, Carnegie Mellon, NYU, Georgia Tech, Brown, and Dartmouth. These rankings are based on academic reputation, number of citations per faculty, and reputation among employers, international faculty, among other factors.
University of British Columbia
UBC now ranks 45th in the world. Located in Vancouver, the university’s student body of 61,100 includes 13,200 international students from 155 countries. Notable alumni include David Cheriton, Google founding investor and computer science professor at Stanford University, Martin Glynn, President and CEO of HSBC Canada, and Justin Trudeau, the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada.
Streamlined Application Process
Canadian university applications require minimal supplemental materials, with no personal statement, no SAT or ACT requirements for international students, no letters of recommendation, and no interview.
Three-Year Bachelor’s Degrees
Those applying with IB, A-Level, and, in some cases, AP credits can earn up to a full year of university credit, thereby obtaining a bachelor’s degree in only three years instead of the usual four. This applies across all disciplines, from a Bachelor of Arts to a Bachelor of Engineering degree.
Possibility of Immigration
After completing your studies, the Canadian government offers a direct route to employment and permanent residency. As an international student, you can apply for a work permit after graduation without an offer of employment, and that visa is valid for up to three years. This employment period can also lead to permanent residency, to which you can apply without having to leave Canada. That means from your first day of university, to your first day as a working professional, to your application for permanent residency, you can start building a life for yourself in Canada without any disruption.
Lower Costs of Attendance
The average total cost of attendance at Canadian Universities is significantly lower than that of US universities. The total cost of attendance for a B.A. from U of T is between $45,000 and $52,000 USD, and a B.A. at McGill costs between $34,000 and $38,000 USD including tuition, housing, and other costs of living. Compared to Harvard and Boston University, with a total cost of attendance of $63,000 and $70,000 respectively, a Canadian degree is more affordable. Just as in the US, work study and merit scholarships are available to international students.
Access to Both a Cosmopolitan and Outdoorsy Lifestyle
Canada’s top universities are centered around cities that offer a cosmopolitan, international lifestyle with vibrant cultural events, excellent professional opportunities, reliable public transportation, and safe, walkable neighborhoods. What’s more, coastal cities offer easy access to some of the world’s best hiking and beaches, and Toronto is surrounded by nature reserves and sites on Lake Ontario, part of the five-lake system of the Great Lakes of North America. For those that can’t decide between the city and the countryside, Canadian universities offer the best of both worlds.
Alexandra Newlon is an Educational Consultant at Hale Education Group and a graduate of McGill University and Washington University in St.Louis.