|# of Students:||1,015,000*|
|# of Int. Students:||100,000*|
|# of Institutes:||72|
|Education Expenditure:||5‰ of GDP|
|Academic Year:||Runs from September to June|
Canadian universities are mostly publicly funded, although since the 1980s more private universities have opened, particularly in British Colombia. The higher education system has both colleges and universities. Colleges tend to be focused on applied study for a particular career, and universities cater for academic and professional qualifications. It is possible to study for an undergraduate degree at colleges and universities, but postgraduate study is limited to universities.
Canadian universities are renowned for the high level of study at postgraduate level. Many important technical and scientific discoveries have been made in Canadian universities.
Although French and English are co-official languages, some areas are predominantly Anglophone and some are Francophone. Almost three quarters of Canadian universities are English-speaking, though in Quebec 14 of the 17 universities are Francophone. There are 8 bilingual universities.
In order to apply for a Master’s programme in Canada, you will need to have achieved a good result for your undergraduate degree. For a professional qualification, it is often necessary for you to have some prior work experience in the field.
The application deadlines for Master’s courses in Canada tend to be around 12 months before the beginning of the course, so it is worth checking the exact dates as soon as you have decided to study in Canada.
As part of your application, you will normally need to provide a transcript of studies from your undergraduate degree, two (or sometimes more) letters of recommendation and a letter of motivation outlining your reasons for application to the particular course and university. Some universities may also require a GRE or GMAT score. These are standardised tests which assess your verbal reasoning and analytical skills, amongst others. You may also have to submit proof of your level of language.
The cost of tuition in Canada tends to be significantly lower than in the States and the UK, though it may be higher than the cost of tuition in other European countries. Tuition at some universities is just under C$2,000 per year, but some courses can charge C$18,000 or more per year. There are scholarships available to international students, especially those from Commonwealth countries. Each university has different scholarships available, so it is best to check with the international admissions office before applying.
Accommodation varies between universities and cities. Some universities provide on-campus accommodation for graduates in residence halls. Some of these include meals, although some are not catered. In university residences, it is usual for graduates and mature students to be housed separately from undergraduate students. In some universities, preference is given to graduate students planning to stay for the whole year rather than just one semester. University accommodation is usually let on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is important to apply as early as possible if you wish to live on campus.
If you would rather not live in university accommodation, you can usually find information on private housing on university message boards or websites. The prices of renting a room or house vary between cities. If you choose to rent privately, it is worth bearing in mind that the rent does not usually cover bills, so you will have to have extra funds to cover these costs.
There are thirteen international airports in Canada, as well as dozens of smaller regional airports – you should find out which is the best to reach your university before you book your flights. The international office at your university should be able to provide you with information about how best to reach your accommodation upon arrival in Canada. Find out information about your onward journey before you book your flights, as you may find it easier to leave your home at an inconvenient time in order to arrive at your destination in working hours, rather than the other way around.
Security at international airports is very strict and there will be a number of items that you will not be permitted to carry in your hand luggage, such as scissors and knives. Your airline will be able to provide a list of prohibited items when you book your tickets. When you are leaving home, allow plenty of time to check in for your flight and to pass through security controls there can be long queues at busy times.
Before arriving in Canada, you must ensure you have the right documents and the money you need. Make sure you carry the following items with you in your hand luggage as you may need them before you collect the luggage which you checked in:
* your valid passport, with visa or entry clearance if you need it.
* travel tickets
* money: carry cash, travellers' cheques and credit cards preferably in a money belt or a very secure inner pocket
* health documents, if required
* your letter of acceptance from your institution
* documentation to show that you have enough money to pay your fees and meet your living costs for the duration of your course originals (or certified copies) of any degree certificates or technical qualifications you have.
If you need a visa to study in Canada, you will need to have received a letter of acceptance from the university before you can apply for your visa. You must be able to prove that you can support yourself financially during your studies in order to be eligible; you need to be able to cover the university tuition fees, and C$10,000 (C$11,000 in Quebec) per year for living costs, as well as the cost of the journey back to your home country at the end of your studies.
In addition to the financial regulations, you must also have a clean criminal record, and be in good health. You may sometimes have to have a medical examination before being issued a visa.
As an international student on a student visa, you may sometimes work on or off campus. It is advisable to check this with your nearest embassy or consulate before committing to work.
The visa application can take anything between 2 weeks and 20 weeks, depending on which embassy you apply to. You should check the processing time as soon as possible, and ideally begin the application process as soon as you have received your letter of acceptance.
Canada is a country in North America, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast to the Pacific on the west. It has one of the strongest economies in the world, and Canadians enjoy a high standard of living, as well as an internationally renowned university system. The capital city is Ottawa and the largest city is Toronto. Both French and English are official languages of Canada, and there are many recognised minority indigenous languages. The climate ranges from arctic and sub-arctic in the north of the country to temperate further south near the border with America.