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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 public university and college & polytechnic structure is similar. Just as Canada’s 10 Provinces and 3 Territories, organize health care, they also organize and license universities and colleges.

For example, lmost 100% of Canadians study at a university that receives government funding. All programs to train doctors, dentists, veterinarians, engineers pharmacists and almost all that train lawyers are 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 very typical and usual for Canadians to study Bachelor's degrees at smaller universities such as Saint Mary’s in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Then these students may go do a Master degree or study medicine in a super-large city like at the University of Toronto It is also very common that students who do a Bachelor's degree at a big research university may do a Master's degree or Ph.D at a medium-sized or even small university..

For a journal article on Canadian higher education quality published by one of the CUAC founders see the following.

International Higher Education (click on PDF).

At CUAC 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 of the provinces or territories. But for international students there are no controls or limits. 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.

In the comparisons in the article you can see that Canadian tuitions of $6000 or $7000 might be $30,000 or even nearly $60,000 for International students.

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. It might be as low as $20,000 Canadian each year or double or triple that. 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 won't be the first choice of

location that you wanted.

We always welcome questions to

1 Comment

Hammed O. Lawal
Hammed O. Lawal
May 31, 2022

St Mary's University is my top choice because of the quality of how the program I'm going for is being handled.

Though I'd love to visit bigger cities and universities in Canada but my super-priority still comes first. I can always go for bigger ones after it has been satisfied.


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