You probably already know, from friends, family, or your socials, that Canada is an extremely popular destination for higher education. But why study in Canada? Every year, Canada sees over 500,000 international students arriving for post-secondary education. Some of the highest-ranking universities worldwide are based in Canada – including the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and McGill University! Choosing a university is one of the biggest, and likely most expensive, decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. And the hundreds if not thousands of options out there can make this decision overwhelming. So, out of all these options, why study in Canada?
10 Reasons to Study in Canada
1. Distinguish Yourself Academically
A degree or certification from a Canadian university immediately sets you apart to potential employers, colleagues, and further education boards!
Canadian universities consistently rank impressively high globally. According to the QS World University Rankings for 2022, Canada lands 10 universities in the top 300. Two of these, the University of Toronto and McGill University, rank in the top 30! Meanwhile, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings of 2022 rank seven Canadian universities in the top 200.
A degree or certification from these schools is globally recognised as proof of your ability and potential. Just having this on your record opens doors to employment and further education opportunities, especially in research!
In fact, according to the 2022 QS Graduate Employability Rankings, employers scored 18 Canadian universities as their top picks. And of these, two universities, the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo, land in the top 30. These names frequently appear as highly recommended Canadian universities for international students! Essentially, having a degree or certification from a Canadian university is like having an express pass for employment!
2. Flexibility in Building Your Degree
A spectacular advantage of studying in Canada is the chance you get to build a degree personalized to you. Rather than limiting yourself to a rigid curriculum, most Canadian universities offer plenty of flexibility in choosing majors and minors.
Your major is the specific, broad area of study you want to specialise in. Minors, meanwhile, are supplementary courses you can study along with your major. While you can choose a minor which complements your major, many Canadian universities give you the chance to test the waters. You can try out a wide variety of disciplines, collecting credits for your courses, before declaring your major. Typically, you declare your major by your second year, or after collecting required credits set by your program or school.
This is an incredible opportunity for international students in Canada.
After all, how would you know whether a field is the right choice for you before trying it out first-hand? You might find that the field you were considering isn’t what you were imagining it to be. Alternately, you might fall in love with a discipline you’d never even considered studying in the first place!
So, for example, you might be taking psychology courses in your first year along with astronomy and film studies. You’ll have plenty of time to try out different things before committing to a major! And even then, you can choose a minor that could complement your specialisation or fall under a completely different discipline.
Essentially, this flexibility lets you figure out what you want to do and the career path you see yourself following. Doing this through first-hand experience rather than guesswork and hearsay means you choose what you know works best for you. It also lets you diversify your skillsets, knowledge, and worldview far more than if you stuck to one discipline! You don’t just broaden your options in careers, you also enrich your life to appreciate its complexities and potential.
3. Get Work Experience Through Co-Op Programs
A recurring worry of graduates is completing their degree only to struggle with finding work. Unfortunately, this is a prevalent problem the world over. The International Labour Organisation’s Global Trends for Youth 2020 estimates 68 million unemployed youth worldwide. And one reason this might be the case? At least 91% of employers seek work experience from new hires – including graduates fresh out of a degree program. So how can students cope with the dilemma of getting work experience before they’ve even completed their studies?
Luckily, for international students in Canada, this is hardly a problem. Canada goes out of its way to make working during and after your studies incredibly accessible and straightforward! You can not only work and study at the same time in Canada. You can also specifically enrol in a co-op program where part of the curriculum is work placement. In a co-op (cooperative education) program, your university typically works with you to find employment as part of your curriculum! Usually, this means you alternate between a semester of study, followed by a semester of work.
This has plenty of benefits for international students in Canada!
For starters, under a co-op program, you could graduate with up to two years of work experience. Employers highly value individuals with practical knowledge and skills since you don’t need the additional training. Completing a co-op program instantly gives you a competitive edge in the workforce.
Co-op programs also give you the chance to experience the real-life applicability of your degree. You don’t have to study for 3-4 years only to get into work and realise it’s not for you. Instead, you have the chance early on to get first-hand experience, so you can change tracks if you need to. Another great plus of co-op programs? They’re paid! Unlike unpaid internships, you can earn nearly CAD 40,000 a year through a co-op program!
4. Work Off-Campus with Your Study Permit
Even if you aren’t enrolled in a co-op program, you can still work as an international student in Canada. As a full-time student earning a diploma, degree, or certification from a designated learning institution (DLI), you can work off-campus without needing a work permit!
You need to meet a few more eligibility requirements – for example, your course can’t be less than 6 months long. If you’re enrolled for any academic, vocational, or professional training program, you most likely automatically check off the requirements anyway. Once you’re eligible, you can work 20 hours per week and full-time during scheduled breaks!
Note, though, that you aren’t eligible for off-campus work if you enrol in an English or French as a second language program, or in general interest courses. When weighing your options on why study in Canada, make sure you check your eligibility for work before applying. While work isn’t mandatory, one of the advantages of studying in Canada is the flexibility of working as a student!
5. Work in Canada After Graduation
Canada isn’t only popular for its incredibly robust education systems and work-study opportunities. The Ministry of Education continues to roll out strategies to integrate graduating international students in Canada into its workforce. It’s one of the most compelling reasons why foreigners study in Canada!
One of the benefits for international students in Canada is your chance to apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This program is incredibly flexible and accommodating to international students in Canada, and is a pathway to pursuing permanent residency in the country. You can apply for the PGWP within 180 days of officially completing your program!
Your program needs to be longer than eight months for you to be eligible. If your program is less than two years long, your PGWP will be valid for the same time length as that program. If your program is longer than two years, you may receive a permit valid for up to three years!
Under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system, work experience classified under Skill Type 0 (management), Skill Level A (professional work requiring a degree), or Skill Level B (technical and skill-based jobs) helps you access pathways to permanent residency!
Canadian universities for international students are very accommodating to your needs. Schools and government institutions are continuously working to attract and train a highly qualified generation of youngsters. This includes systems in place ready to funnel you right into the workforce.
6. Get Permanent Residency in Canada
Qualifying for a PGWP is the first step towards helping you become a Canadian citizen! The Canadian government is consistently encouraging individuals who can contribute to its economy to apply for permanent residency. In fact, as of May 2021, the government plans to approve 90,000 new residents into the country.
As a country which ranks consistently high in quality-of-life metrics, settling in Canada is a dream for many. You get access to higher paid jobs, facilities like free healthcare, dual citizenship, and much more. And as an international student, you get a running start at making this dream come true!
Your education and work experience enhance your eligibility as a future permanent resident. Certain permanent residence categories require Canadian work experience specifically. So, a PGWP can be the first step toward making Canada your home.
You can check your eligibility to become a permanent Canadian resident through the government-provided Come to Canada resources!
7. Get Hands-On, Skill-Based Training
A reason youth unemployment tends to be high in many countries is the mismatch between demand and supply of workers. There’s often an oversupply of degree holders in traditional fields like engineering and medicine compared to demand.
On the other hand, there’s a shortage of skilled workers in technical and trade fields. Vocational education systems are still trying to get their footing in many countries. In Canada, they’re already an integrated part of the education system. Under the Learn Canada 2020 mission, vocational education is one of the four main pillars. Skill-based, hands-on learning programs are available at both secondary and post-secondary levels.
The best part is that Canadian education, in general, is very responsive to industry trends, focused on keeping classroom learning apace with a changing workplace. Vocational education, often referred to in Canada as “skills development and adult learning”, is no exception. These programs give you first-hand skill-based experience in your field of choice, meaning you enter the workforce fully trained. This makes you very appealing to employers since you already possess the work experience and how-to knowledge.
Getting a certification, diploma, or degree in vocational education often costs you less in time and money, too. You build up your specialisations knowing that your training is in demand because you’re directly learning industry practices rather than outdated theory. Like co-op programs and work-study schemes, vocational education also allows you to develop your professional network. You have the connections and work experience you need to not just get into work but qualify for higher-paid posts.
8. Is it Worth it Studying in Canada?
All these benefits for international students in Canada are great and all – but what does it mean for your pocket? Costs are after all a valid concern, especially when it’s this big of a financial decision. Remember that costs do vary across different universities and provinces, and international students in Canada pay more than Canadians.
On average, though, Canada tends to be more affordable than US, UK, and Australian universities at undergraduate and graduate levels. You’ll have to take into consideration the program, school, and region as part of your budget-based decisions though. Along with tuition fees, cost of living also varies across the ten provinces making up the country. The location of your chosen university is something you’ll need to consider when figuring out why you want to study in Canada.
Note, though, that you do have the opportunity to work while studying to earn as you learn. Plus, schooling and work experience open doorways to permanent residency in Canada. International students in many countries face situations where they must return home after completing their degrees. Sometimes this involves returning to fewer work opportunities and chances to pursue a better quality of life. In Canada, as you already know, universities and public institutions are constantly striving to train and retain international students. You’re not only more than welcome to stay and work in Canada - you receive active encouragement and incentives to do so! And these efforts include the range of scholarships offered by the Canadian government, private institutions, and universities to international students.
So, is it worth it to study in Canada? In our books, absolutely.
9. Live in a Cultural Mosaic
Traveling away from home can be a daunting prospect for many international students. Chances are, though, that you’ll find a piece of home in Canada. In 2019, for example, 80% of Canada’s population growth occurred thanks to permanent and non-permanent migration into the country. Nearly 75,000 people transitioned from temporary resident status to permanent Canadian residents, and nearly 350,000 permanent residents gained admission.
In fact, in 2019, Canada placed 8th among countries with the largest immigrant populations worldwide. And an estimated one-fifth of the population is foreign-born! This makes Canada a cultural mosaic of diversity. Different cultures, religions, ethnicities, and races coexist here harmoniously. Canadians view their multicultural identity as a source of pride and are very welcoming and friendly to immigrants.
You’ll not only find people from your homeland but will also get to meet people from all over the world. From food to art to festivals and celebrations, you’ll get to experience the entire world within one country! Just in Toronto, for example, you can drop by at hotspots like China Town, Little Italy, Korean Town and more.
10. Enjoy a Great Quality of Life
Canada consistently places higher than average on the OECD Better Life Index. These metrics span many indicators that influence your quality of life, from the average disposable income to life expectancy and atmospheric balance, work-life balance, and more.
Canada scores highly in all these metrics, with exceptional scores for items like health, life satisfaction, safety, and environment. This is why studying in Canada isn’t just a matter of which program you choose. You’ll have access to numerous facilities and accommodations that enhance your way of living. Though there’s no way to quantify happiness, this is one way to predict that you will be happy in Canada. And that’s not something you can put a price tag on, is there?
Concluding Thoughts: Why Study in Canada?
These 10 reasons aren’t the only advantages of studying in Canada. We would argue, though, that they are plenty compelling on their own. Canada provides top-tier education, high opportunities for employability and permanent residency, and a great quality of life. The education system is geared to align with changes and evolutions in the working world. And the country is incredibly welcoming toward skilled individuals who can contribute to the Canadian economy. From studying here, to working and living here, Canada is incredibly accommodating and accessible for international students! Why study in Canada? Our answer is - we can't think of a reason why not!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I study in Canada for free?
Although international students in Canada are charged tuition, there are plenty of opportunities to offset some of these expenses with earn-as-you-learn programs and scholarships. You can earn an average of CAD 20 an hour through co-op programs or work placements. You also don’t need a work permit as long your student permit qualifies you for on- and off-campus work. There are also a range of government-provided scholarships as well as university-specific merit- and need-based scholarships. Research thoroughly and find the right match for you!
Is Canada affordable for international students?
Tuition and costs of living vary across the various institutions and provinces of Canada. We highly recommend researching the colleges you’re considering along with the cost of living in those regions.
Can I apply for permanent residency in Canada after graduating?
Yes, you can! The educational and work experience you have as a graduate gives you a head start in qualifying as a permanent resident in Canada. The government of Canada is very open to and encouraging of skilled international students joining the economy! Check your eligibility and start planning early if permanent residency is in your long-term plans.
Can I work in Canada as a student?
Yes! As an international student in a course longer than six months, you can work 20 hours during semesters. You can also work full-time over the break. Many co-op programs also include work placements as part of your curriculum. You study and work over alternate semesters, getting hands-on industry experience. Through such programs, you can graduate with up to two years of work experience.
Can I work in Canada after I graduate?
As long as you apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) within 180 days of completing your program, and meet a few other eligibility requirements, yes, you can!