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Canada vs the UK for International Students - Where to Study?

Feb 12, 2023Date Published
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UniSearch - Canada vs the UK for International Students - Where to Study?

The United Kingdom and Canada have always been top choices for international students for higher education. Each has a lengthy history of offering top-notch education and independently holds top rankings in every category! We have gathered some significant facts to help you choose between Canada vs the UK for international students. We'll analyse and contrast the two nations based on some of the key factors that students will take into account while selecting a location. This will help you make the best choice for yourself in terms of your ideal study abroad destination!

What You Need to Know About Studying in Canada vs the UK

If you are fascinated by the prospect of historic university buildings and campuses filled with culture, studying in Canada or the UK must have crossed your mind. It might be challenging to choose a destination to study abroad because there are so many options. Before you become overwhelmed by all the possibilities, let's look at some of the important factors you may be thinking about, from the standards of education and costs of living down to work and post-study opportunities.

1. Top Universities

Canada and the UK are both excellent choices if you want to attend the best universities in the world. Both the Canadian and British educational systems foster an environment that gives international students a promising future.

The UK is home to over 100 public institutions, 11 of which are listed among the top 100 universities in the world. The University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, rank #2 and #3 respectively in the QS World University Rankings 2022. With over 20 universities ranked among the top 200, you're certain to find something that suits you!

Similarly, Canadian universities consistently rank impressively high globally. Canada lands 10 universities in the top 300. Two of these, the University of Toronto and McGill University, rank in the top 30!

Here you can find some of the top universities in the UK and Canada.

Top Universities in the UK
Top Universities in Canada
University of Oxford (#2)
University of Toronto (#26)
University of Cambridge (#3)
McGill University (#27)
Imperial College London (#7)
The University of British Columbia (#46)
University College London (#8)
University of Montreal (#111)
The University of Edinburgh (#16)
University of Alberta (#126)
The University of Manchester (#27)
McMaster University (#140)
King’s College London (#35)
University of Waterloo (#149)
London School of Economics and Political Science (#49)
Western University (#170)
University of Warwick (#61)
University of Ottawa (#230)
University of Bristol (#62)
University of Calgary (#235)

*This list is based on the QS World University Rankings 2022

2. Top Courses

Both the UK and Canada provide fantastic options if you want to make your decision based on the best place for your field of study. You can find some of the top courses an international student can pursue in both countries here:

Popular Universities for Subject-Specific Programs in the UK
Popular Universities for Subject-Specific Programs in Canada

Bioscience, health, and medicine:

Agricultural science & forestry:

Business management:

Bioscience, health, and medicine:

Business and administration studies:

Business Management:

Computer Science:


Design studies:





Hospitality management:


Human Resources:

Preclinical medicine:

IT and Computer Science:

Sports and Exercise Science:

Media and Journalism:

Subjects allied to medicine:


3. Cost of Education

Studying abroad can be quite expensive, especially when you include stationery, insurance, and other fees. The cost of education varies depending on the following:

  • Your program - some programs, especially highly technical and specialised programs that require a lot of resources, are pricier than others
  • Your study level - bachelor’s programs in general are longer than master’s programs and may cost more overall. Doctoral programs on the other hand can be several years long and depending on your discipline, can be more expensive overall
  • The university - public universities, which receive government funding, may be more affordable than private universities. Overall, the larger and more reputable the university, the more expensive it tends to be
  • Location - Tuition fees can vary quite a bit within a single country. A general rule of thumb is that the higher the costs of living in a city, the more expensive tuition fees 

If you are planning to pursue your higher education in the UK you may need a budget between £10,000 to £60,000 annually. The cost of an undergraduate degree in the UK for international students can range between £10,000 and £26,000 a year. Meanwhile, the cost of a graduate degree can go anywhere from £4,800 to as high as approximately £60,000 per year for a clinical degree.

Likewise, since Canadian universities set their own tuition rates, there will be differences in fees between institutions. For international students, Canadian tuition fees can fall around £21,000 for undergraduate programs. For graduates, average tuition fees round up at £13,000.

Below are the first-year tuition fee ranges for international students for moderately affordable UK universities and Canadian Universities
UK University Name
Tuition Fee Ranges Per Year (Undergraduate)
Canadian University Name
Tuition Fee Ranges Per Year (Undergraduate)
Swansea University
£15,950 - £21,350
Memorial University of Newfoundland
University of Plymouth
£14,600 - £22,100
University of Guelph
£20,945.03 - £29,728.85
University of Brighton
£13,842 - £15,462
Algoma University
University of Portsmouth
£16,200 - £18,300
Brandon University
£11,516 - £12,571
Nottingham Trent University
£15,600 - £16,200
University of Calgary
£16,405 - £33,407

4. Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility standards in Canada vs the UK for international students are quite similar. To be eligible in both countries, students must meet the minimum requirements of the appropriate university, including academic qualifications and proficiency and aptitude test scores.

First and foremost, you must be at or above the age of 16 to apply. After graduating from high school, if you desire to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the UK, you must complete 12 years of schooling from an accredited institution and meet the necessary grades and eligibility criteria to enrol in the programme and university of your choice. The majority of UK institutions accept bachelor's degrees that are three years long for graduate programs. UK universities also require English Proficiency Language exam scores like IELTS, PTE, OIETC and TOEFL from international students.

Similar requirements apply in Canada, where you must complete 12 years of education to qualify for a bachelor’s degree. Bachelor’s degree programmes generally last four years. The length of a graduate programme in Canada ranges from two to three years. Canadian institutions require IELTS or TOEFL testing from international applicants.

5. Cost of Living

Just like the tuition fees, the cost of living in Canada and the living cost in the UK for international students depend on a variety of individual factors. The cost of your accommodation, for example, will depend on the type of housing you select. Homestays and sharing private residences with others might be less expensive than on-campus housing. Location can play a big role - generally the bigger bustling metropolitan cities with active urban living are pricier than the suburbs and smaller towns. Apartments in city centres are likely to be more expensive than those farther out.

The average cost of housing in the UK is about £500- 1,600 per month, whereas it costs about £1,750- 5,600 a month in Canada. For food and groceries, you should budget between £150 and £250 in the UK and between £400 and £600 per month in a city like Ottawa in Canada. In both countries, the most expensive locations are the big metropolitan cities.

Here’s a breakdown of the rough costs of living for universities we listed above for tuition fees:

Average Cost of Living Estimates for UK Universities
University Name
Food & Groceries
Mobile Phone & Internet
Swansea University
University of Plymouth
University of Brighton


University of Portsmouth
Nottingham Trent University
Average Cost of Living Estimates for Canadian Universities
University Name
Food & Groceries
Mobile Phone & Internet

Memorial University of Newfoundland
University of Guelph
£13,137.12 - £20,815.32
£3435.68 - £4403.56
Algoma University
£3,476.30 - £3,797.59
£1,938 - £3,300
Brandon University
£6,168.67 -

University of Calgary

6. Work While Studying

Fortunately, both Canada and the UK allow international students to work part-time while studying, based on a variety of parameters.

You are allowed to work on campus thanks to your Canadian study permit. This includes working for organisations or business operating within your university campus. With the right authorisation, you can also work off-campus as an international student! When classes are ongoing, you can work up to 20 hours a week and during the holidays, you can work full time.

Canadian universities also offer co-op programs - work experience that represent a part of your program. Co-op programs supplement your classroom training with hands-on industry experience. They're one of the reasons Canadian universities have a reputation for producing job-ready graduates!

Now let's check out some of your work options in the UK! To qualify, you must meet certain requirements - like being a full-time student at an authorised university. For degree level or higher, you can work up to 20 part-time hours per week. During yearly semester breaks, you get to work full-time. Below degree level, you can work a total of 10 hours a week and full-time during semester breaks.

Like Canada, you can only work in the UK as an international student if you have the appropriate authorisation. If your entry clearance doesn't authorise you for working while studying, you may be able to work through internships and work placements instead! Like co-op programs, internships and work placements constitute a part of your program. These opportunities are great for getting practical experience in your field.

7. Post-Study Employment Options

Through the Graduate route, international students who complete their degree with a bachelor’s or master’s degree can remain in the UK for 2 years, with opportunities to stay longer after finding suitable employment. Those graduating with doctoral degrees can access 3-year post-study Graduate visas.

Canada also provides its graduates the option of staying in the country after completing their studies. Graduates from recognized universities and programs may apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which enables international students to continue working in Canada after graduation. The length of the visa depends on the length of your program. For programs that are longer than two years, you can get up to three years PGWP validity! The great news is that such post-study experience can open up opportunities for you to pursue permanent residency in Canada. Some permanent residency options require work experience in Canada and the PGWP sets you up to get exactly that!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The UK vs Canada, which is better to live in?

It is difficult to determine which is better than the other. Canada received a 7.6 on the average life satisfaction rating, while the UK received a 7.2, showing pretty similar scores. While Canada offers a relaxing way of life, the UK has a lot of history, especially when it comes to hosting foreign-born students. Both countries have large multinational and multicultural communities. The sociodemographic make-up, culture, and lifestyle can also vary depending on which part of the country you're in. We recommend thoroughly researching what you can expect at either destination to hone in our your preferences.

Our Concluding Thoughts:

You may have noticed that each country offers a unique set of benefits for students looking to study abroad. While Canada has lower total study and living costs and offers international students flexible post-study employment possibilities, in some cases creating opportunities for permanent residency, the UK has some of the top universities in the world and a long history of producing job-ready, in-demand graduates. You can make a decision based on your preferences and priorities for a variety of things that are important to you.