How to choose a Canadian university – the money part.

So you are just exploring the idea of studying in Canada? This is a series intended to guide students and their supporting family members in how to make the most prudent, personally suitable choices. In this instalment, we explore the role of money in making the choice.


Canada has an economic and social structure different from most countries in the world. For example, 100% of Canadians and permanent residents have the same access to doctors and hospitals – comparable quality and free of cost for almost everything imaginable. This is all paid for by the taxes of working people


Canada’s university structure is similar. Just as Canada’s 10 Provinces and 3 Territories, organize health care, they also organize and license universities. Almost 100% of Canadians study at a university that receives government funding. All medical, dental, veterinarian, engineering, and pharmacy schools are publically funded. Virtually every law school is publically funded.

What is the significance of this for international students? It means that in Canada there is very high standardization of quality at all levels of study. It is the most normal thing for Canadians to study at a smaller university such as Saint Mary’s in Halifax, Or UNBC in Prince George, British Columbia.Then to go do a Master degree at the super-large University of Toronto or University of Alberta in Edmonton. Then maybe to do a Ph.D at a medium-sized university such as the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon or Concordia University in Montreal.


We get asked a lot about rankings because most countries have very big quality differences in their higher education systems. But in Canada there are no official rankings. We do have magazine or newspaper rankings but these are mainly useful to get an idea of what is different or special about one university or another. They are certainly not scientific and Canadians will not generally rely on these to make their choices.


How does this relate to money? Tuition prices for Canadians and Permanent Residents are controlled by the governments. But for international students there are no controls. It means that most Bachelor programs cost more or less the same wherever someone studies in Canada (with a few exceptions). Even the small prices differences don’t have any relationship to “quality of program”. In a Toronto Star article from July 25, 2020 it did a comparison of tuition in Ontario institutions for local students and for international students and you can see this information here.

https://www.thestar.com/news/investigations/2020/07/25/shes-one-of-canadas-dreamers-they-said-she-had-limitless-potential-but-now-her-future-is-on-hold.html?li_source=LI&li_medium=thestar_recommended_for_you


In the following link you can also read an article explaining how the Canadian university system has consistently high quality; an article which we wrote for the prestigious journal International


Higher Education (click on PDF).

http://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/ihe/article/view/8591


So, now that you understand our system how can you use this to make choices? By reading through this series of “How to Choose a Canadian University” you can narrow down your choices to the biggest priorities according to all the factors. When you have your priority list, then see what is the tuition price for each university’s program that you want. If your top choice is perfect, apply for that one. But if one or another of your top choices is too costly, then you can feel comfort knowing that the other top choices will also have high quality but maybe not the favourite location that you wanted.


We always welcome questions to blog@cuac.ca.

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