For students interested in studying abroad, Canada is a safe, open and tolerant multicultural society with a unique education system that offers a rich variety of academic programs.
Canada’s education system
A country with a highly diverse cultural blend (more than 200 ethnic origins and 200 first languages within its borders), Canada does not have a national system of education or federal department. The federal government has given territorial governments the responsibility to run their own education systems, which cooperate with the 13 Canadian provinces (Alberta, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, Yukon and Saskatchewan) to delivery postsecondary programs.
The federal government
- provides financial support for postsecondary education and the teaching of its two official languages: English and French. According to UNESCO’s Global Report on Adult Learning and Education, Canadian provinces and territories have educational programming at different levels that address the needs of certain populations.
- provides scholarships, grants and funding opportunities for students whether part-time, full-time, with disabilities and from low or middle-income families, and with dependents.
- delivers the Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) to help make post-secondary education more affordable and accessible for students who need assistance.
- is responsible for the education of indigenous populations, federal prison inmates, and armed forces personnel.
- provides revenue for universities and colleges through transfer payments.
Easy residency and promising employment
International students are regarded as great candidates for becoming permanent residents because of their language skills, education credentials and work experience in Canada. Policy changes have helped to increase the allowable number of hours of paid work for international students and the length of postgraduation work permits. These changes have also helped develop specific immigration programs in provinces directed at international students.
A CBIE research report found that 52% of prospective international students plan to apply for permanent residency because Canada has better job opportunities than their home country, and 59% of prospective international students plan to apply for permanent residency because Canada has a better standard of living than their home country.
With a study permit, students can work on campus if the institution they are attending is publicly funded and offers degree programs. Students can also work as a graduate, research or teaching assistant for an off-campus employer that has a formal affiliation with the institution, such as a teaching hospital or research institute.
Full-time students may also be eligible to work off-campus for any employer. These permits usually allow up to 20 hours per week during the term, and full-time during holidays. As of February 14, 2019, the Canadian federal government published changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit program, making employment in Canada after graduation much easier for international students. A Post-Graduation Work Permit allows an international graduate to work anywhere in Canada at any job for up to three years after finishing a degree or diploma at a Canadian university or public college. The application time is now six months and students can now apply for the permit up to 180 days after finishing their degree or diploma. However, to qualify, students must attend a public post-secondary institution.
Canada is safe
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the U.S. Department of State reports that the overall violent crime rate is lower in Canada than the U.S. Despite the increase in tourism in 2017, the police reported that the overall city crime rate in Montreal, Canada decreased and that homicide rates are the lowest in the past 45 years. The majority of crimes occurring in Vancouver are non-violent in nature. Street crime targeting individuals for robberies is rare. The crime level in Halifax has a minimal impact on the work and life of the community. A 2017 Calgary Police Commission Report said 95% of citizens agreed Calgary is a safe place to live.
The Institute for Economics & Peace ranked Canada as the eighth most peaceful country in the world in 2016 and 2017 and sixth in 2018. The first country to officially adopt multiculturalism as a policy, Canada follows a set of principles outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A quality, affordable education worth leaving home for
Canada’s education systems are rated among the best in the world and are responsive to the needs of diverse populations and age groups. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered in Canadian universities, as well as professional degree programs and certificates.
While international students pay more than Canadian citizens to go to school because they are out of state, it is still less than they would pay in other countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States or Australia. Some universities in Canada charge low tuition fees for international students and fees are usually between $5,000 to $10,000 per year for undergraduate, master and doctorate degree programs.
According to a recent study by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), in 2017 there were 494,525 international students in Canada at all levels of study -- a 17% increase over 2016, and a 34% increase between 2014 and 2017. Over 1.5 million new jobs were created for university graduates between 2008 and 2017– almost three times those created for graduates of all other types of postsecondary education combined. More than half of undergraduates benefit from co-ops, internships and service learning as part of their university education, and 78% of universities promote intercultural engagement through events, activities, and training.
At the University of Alberta, graduates have the highest employment rate in Canada and one of best in the world, according to university rankings.
Canadian universities are putting extra effort into internationalizing their campuses and seek to offer students opportunities to have unforgettable experiences that will help enhance their career and interpersonal skills.
For example, McGill University’s Buddy program has helped thousands of international students settle into McGill and Montreal by pairing international students with current students who offer linguistic support, cultural guidance, and more.
Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia has a diverse community of students from over 110 countries, and offers an International Learning Champion Award to recognize Dalhousie faculty and staff members who have made a significant impact in promoting and supporting international learning experiences for Dalhousie students.