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Applying to study in Canada?

For international students, studying in Canada doesn't just mean studying in a foreign country, but in one of the most well-developed countries in the world, a place that attracts a lot of foreign students every year. The concept of internationalisation is enjoying its peak time for a good time now in Canada due to the well-off economy and education system.

The Canadian education system explained.

In Canada, there are publicly-funded and private schools - everything from career/community or technical colleges, language and secondary schools, to universities and summer camps. International students applying for studying in Canada will have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of degrees - Bachelors (usually, of a 4- year duration period), Masters (an additional 1-2 years), Diplomas, PhDs (of approx. 3 years), Certificates or any other kind of attestations.

Both English and French-speaking universities are spread all around the country, so you have a good selection of choices to cherry-pick from. For example, there are over 70 universities with 17 of these being private, and 26 of them featuring in the QS World University Rankings (2016-2017) - McGill University is among the global top 50 best universities.

Community colleges and technical institutions (very similar to university colleges) are an alternative route to university, offering courses and qualifications in their own right. The courses here are typically more practical and related to a very specific job. That's why, they tend to be shorter than university courses (from 2 to 3 years long) and the skills learned from them can transfer into points that count towards a university degree. This is a much more attractive route for international students as it boasts lower fees and less stringent entry requirements.

Career colleges, on the other hand, are privately owned institutions offering training programmes designed to provide students with practical training for the world of employment. They have short-term courses to provide students with the skills needed for the workplace, such as computer and secretarial skills. Although the institutions are private, they are approved and regulated by the province to ensure a high-quality standard.

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Admission requirements, deadlines and... fees, of course.

To apply for an international degree in Canada, you must tick off two very crucial requirements:

  1. language proficiency;
  2. necessary funds to cover your living expenses and tuition fees.

Entry requirements vary according to where they are, and which course you are doing, so you should contact your chosen institution(s) regarding their specific entry requirements. You may need to prove that your qualifications are comparable in quality to Canadian education, therefore your qualifications assessed might be assessed (there are various agencies that can do this for you - see the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) website for more information on this subject).

Language proficiency

Depending on the course you choose to go for, you'll need to submit a proof of proficiency in either French or English. Remember that in Quebec, French is the official language, and the majority of Canadian universities offer courses in both languages. 

Institutions will normally have their own requirements for language proficiency in French or English. If neither of these is not your first language, you will normally be required to prove your ability through achievement of a certain level in a recognised language test (such as IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge English: Advanced - CAE).

Tuition fees and deadlines

It is only natural to assume that international students have to pay higher fees than domestic students. You can find graduate programs at around CAD$6,000, all the way up to CAD$35,000, but there are plenty of opportunities for exceptional learners who can obtain scholarships, grants, bursary options.

In most cases, you will need to apply to an institution directly, either by downloading or requesting an application form, and submitting it with the relevant documents online or via post. Contact your chosen institution directly or visit their website for information about how to apply.

You may have to pay an application fee, depending on the university and program. In Ontario however, you may apply to as many institutions as you like. There is a base application fee of CAD$156 for the first 3 university/program choices, plus CAD$10 for the international service fee. For each additional program choice beyond these, you'll need to pay CAD$50 per choice. It's important to know that fees for withdrawn university choices won't be refunded.

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It is advisable to start preparing your application at least a year in advance, though you should ask institutions for their specific application deadlines, as these may vary. For Ontario applications, there is no deadline, but you should apply as soon as it is open in October. Whilst there is no specific deadline, applications received before the 'Equal Consideration Date' (usually in February) must be given equal consideration so it is advisable to apply before this date.

Living expenses

Living expenses can start from 10,000 Canadian Dollars per year study year, even more when applying to study in Quebec - note that this in on top of the tuition fees. Unfortunately, in Canada, you can rely much on what you might gain from working while studying because you're only allowed to up to 20 hours per week of working (although full-time jobs are permitted during summer breaks).


Staying in Canada after graduation: opportunities.

Students who want to remain in the country after graduation need to apply for a post-graduation work permit, which allows them to stay for up tp 3 years in the country. You will be eligible to remain in the country if you've studied full-time in Canada in a program that was of at least 8 months long; if your study-permit is valid when you apply for a post-graduation work permit (the application has to be submitted within 90 days of receiving the written confirmation that you've graduated from your academic program).

There is a high interest for skilled professionals in all sorts of industries (engineering, graphic design, HR, natural sciences - just to name a few) in Canada, so as long as you keep to your studies and plan to polish your talent within the country.

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Good to know.

For any information at all, check constantly the Citizenship and Immigration Canada page to find a Canadian school that can host international students. Also, stay connected to the Universities Canada website to get the most updated statistics on Canadian universities. The legislation, deadlines and fees might change yearly, so keep an eye on these websites before applying. And more importantly, good luck!