Universities for Expats in Canada

Submitted: November 2013

People tend to use the terms ‘University’ and ‘College’ interchangeable however for tertiary education in Canada the two terms have different meanings. Colleges refer to institutions whose academic curriculum is focused on a particular field or career path, such as health science and agriculture. These institutions also tend to offer practical training to their students. Conversely universities refer to institutions those educational institutions that award degrees after successful completion of your program. University curriculum focuses on professional and academic programs.

Canada has a multi-dimensional tertiary education system. Institutions vary by size, cost, location, and curriculum to name a few. Keep in mind that these are all factors to consider when deciding on a school.

Many foreign students flock to Canada and consequently attend a Canadian university because of the country’s friendly disposition, multicultural population and general caring regard for international students. However it cannot be denied that another deciding factor is Canada’s tuition rates. Though not cheap or free, Canada’s tuition rates as compared to other countries are decidedly affordable.

Your university selection process should commence with thorough research. As a starting point your research should consider a number of factors.

  1. Cost - Determining every single possible cost may be challenging, but it is advised to have a budget. The major university costs are tuition, books, living accommodation and other sundry expenses.  Tuition and books will carry a standard cost specific to the institution ranging from CAD$8,000 to CAD$26,00 a year, however living accommodation will vary according to preference and needs such as on or of campus housing, renting or living at home. See link for a range of tuition expense by institution www.univcan.ca/universities/facts-and-stats/tuition-fees-by-university
  2. Sundry expenses such as stationary, groceries, travel expenses, and minor school administrative fees do add up. These costs should be considered in your selection process.
  3. Entry Requirements - Each university has its own criteria for admissions. This information is useful in determining your prospect or possibilities. Admissions criteria are found on the school’s website.
  4. Accreditation - Be mindful to ensure that quality education is received; ensure that the institution is accredited. See link for list of accredited tertiary level institutions in Canada www.cicic.ca/868/search_the_directory_of_educational_institutions_in_canada.canada. Quality is not solely determined by accreditation, you should also consider what resources the school has available for its student body.
  5. School size, culture and activities - These factors should be considered with personal preferences and needs in mind. The student population in some cases is related to the schools culture and practices. Student population information is available on the institutions’ website. For reference, you should also consider the schools enrollment statistics. www.univcan.ca/universities/facts-and-stats/enrolment-by-university

If you need a balance between academia and pleasure, you should also consider the availability of extra curricula activities at the institution.

Choosing a school may become a daunting task mentally and, financially, it may be a burden. However there are programs and options available for international students. Funding for scholarships is extremely competitive but there are other options such as student loans and grants. Note that there are requirements to fulfill for each option/program and there is no guarantee of approval for any individual. The following link provides further information on each available option www.cicic.ca/1317/get_information_on_financial_assistance_available_for_canadian_citizens_or_permanent_residents_of_canada.canada
If cost is not a major factor there are private institutions that can be considered as an option. These institutions have been authorized to provide tertiary level education leading to the attainment of a degree. These schools however tend to have a religious affiliation. See the following for a list of such schools.  tcu.gov.on.ca/pepg/audiences/pcc/priv_programs.html

When final decisions have been made with respect to what schools to apply to, the next step is the submission of the application. All applications should be submitted at least a year before the desired commencement date.

Useful links to guide your search.



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