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Study in Canada - How to choose!

Are you exploring the idea of studying in Canada? One of the most important factors is commonly the money part. We always need to make choices that make sense to our budgets.

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. and in almost all cases taxpayer money is also used to contribute to these.

For example, almost 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 level 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 for local students most Bachelor level 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 $7,000 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? The first step is to understand 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.

For Bachelor degrees, make sure when you are on a website that you are selecting a full-time course-load which is usually 10 half-courses from September to April or 5 full-courses in that period. University websites can often be confusing. There are also additional fees to check. Sometimes these will include health insurance, sometimes not. They usually include fees to use many different services like the gym and swimming pool, for example. Almost all of these fees will be mandatory and that means they must form part of your budget. Books can be expensive and are not included in the tuition fees or additional fees.

Once you have a list of programs that are within your budget, then it's time to go deeper into other factors that would affect your decision.

If your top choices are affordable, apply for those. But if one or another of your top choices is too costly, then you can feel comfort knowing that as you find options that are affordable for you, these will also have high quality.

We always welcome questions to

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