At the time of writing, the number of international students studying in Canada is over 250,000, a figure that is constantly growing. Many of these students are choosing Canada over other potential destinations, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and France, because of certain advantages that studying in Canada can bring.
With quality and more affordable tuition, safe cities, employment options (both during and after the study period), and as a pathway to Canadian permanent residence, the decision to study in Canada can be one of the most important, and best, decisions made by young people from around the world.
World-class universities and colleges
Canadian universities and colleges located across the country are renowned for their research and innovation. Canada’s higher education institutions are diverse — varying in size, scope, character and breadth of programs. High academic standards and thorough quality controls mean that students may gain a high-quality education that will benefit their careers over the long term. A Canadian degree, diploma or certificate is generally recognized as being equivalent to those obtained from the United States or Commonwealth countries.
Lower tuition costs
Canada is often the preferred choice for students who may also have the option of studying in countries such as the United States or United Kingdom because of the lower tuition costs. Compared to other countries, Canadian international tuition fees, accommodation and other living expenses remain competitive.
Work while you study
Students in Canada have the advantage of being able to work while studying. Among other benefits, this allows them to manage their finances without incurring enormous debt. To gain the right to work off-campus, students must:
- have a valid study permit;
- be a full-time student;
- be enrolled at a designated learning institutionat the post-secondary level or, in Quebec, a vocational program at the secondary level; and
- be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six months in duration.
If a candidate qualifies, his or her study permit will allow him or her to:
- work up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions; and
- work full-time during scheduled breaks, such as the winter and summer holidays or spring break.
Post-graduate work permit
A typical path from student to permanent resident status in Canada is through taking advantage of something Canada offers that is not available, or more difficult to obtain, in other countries — a post-graduate work permit.
This work permit may be issued on completion of the study program for the duration that the program, up to a maximum of three years. Thus, a graduate who completed a four-year study program could be eligible for a three-year post-graduate work permit, while a graduate who completed a study program twelve months in duration could be eligible for a twelve-month post-graduate work permit.
A pathway to Canadian permanent residence
Skilled Canadian work experience gained through the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program helps graduates to qualify for permanent residence in Canada through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).
Moreover, certain provinces, such as British Columbia and Quebec, have immigration streams that identify certain graduates for permanent residence. Candidates for British Columbia’s International Post-Graduate category have the advantage of not requiring a job offer and being able to have their application for permanent residence processed through the federal Express Entry immigration selection system. Students who graduate from a study program in Quebec may be eligible to apply for a Quebec Selection Certificate (Certificat de sélection du Québec, commonly known as a CSQ) through the Quebec Experience Class.
Canada wants students
“More than anything, Canada does not see international students as a source of income for privately-owned educational institutions, to be shown the door when they have completed their studies,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“On the contrary, Canada wants students because Canada is all about nation-building. Young, intelligent newcomers who have proven they have the credentials and means to assimilate are a big part of that. In short, Canada wants students to come here, study, contribute socially and economically, and stay permanently.”