Study in Canada
Canada’s first inhabitants were Native Canadians—also known as aboriginal peoples or First Nations—including Inuit peoples in the North. These peoples spanned the entire territory of modern-day Canada and had unique vibrant cultures and economies. Canada was then settled by the British and French, and for many years was governed as a British colony.
From 1864 to 1867, representatives of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada—with British support—worked together to establish a new country. These men are known as the Fathers of Confederation. They created two levels of government: federal and provincial.
The old Province of Canada was split into two new provinces: Ontario and Quebec, which, together with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, formed the new country called the Dominion of Canada. Each province would elect its own legislature and have control of such areas as education and health.
The British Parliament passed the British North America Act in 1867. The Dominion of Canada was officially born on July 1, 1867. All remaining provinces joined Confederation one by one in the years to come. Newfoundland and Labrador is Canada’s newest province, having joined Confederation in 1949.
In 1982 the country formally severed its legal dependence on the British Parliament with the Canada Act and gained its own constitution and the important Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Today’s Canada enjoys strong historical links with Britain but has more real ties with the US (its largest trading partner), though its foreign policy and political structure are distinct.
Canada was a founding member of NATO, the United Nations, the Commonwealth and La Francophonie.
Students who have never been to Canada often have an image of it as the land of snow and hockey. What they find when they come to the country is quite different. Polar bears stick to the northern regions and there are beautiful seasons other than winter in Canada. Hockey is our national game but there are a thousand other sports and activities to choose from—some on sunny beaches, some near vast lakes or oceans, and some in the midst of busy modern cities.
Canada is a land of rich diversity, encompassing urban sophistication and abundant nature and wildlife. It is safe yet also exciting; stable yet also filled with adventure. It features cutting-edge technology, inspiring cultural icons, and a vibrant society that is open to everyone. Canadians tend to be modern, welcoming, and open-minded.
Across Canada are examples of excellence, innovation, and beauty, all of which—along with top-notch educational institutions—make Canada one of the leading study abroad destinations in the world.
In this section, agents will learn what makes Canada attractive to students considering study abroad—beginning with quick facts about Canada, and progressing to a more detailed look at the country’s history, economy, government, people, culture, geography, and climate.
Canada Is a Wonderful Place to Live and Study: Since 2004, the United Nations has regularly ranked Canada in the top 10 countries in the world in its Quality of Life Index. Combining excellent educational institutions, an innovative economy, a tolerant and safe culture, and extraordinary beauty, Canada is an ideal destination for international students. In addition, praised for their overall stability, multiculturalism, clean environments, and world-class healthcare, and education systems, Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 2016 Economist Intelligence Unit ranking of the world’s most livable cities.
Canadian Education Is World Class: Canada is also ranked #1 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for higher education achievement—more than half of its citizens between the ages of 25 and 64 have a post-secondary education. The Times 2016–2017 World University Rankings placed seven Canadian universities in the top 200 (and four of these in the top 100). As well, Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities placed four Canadian institutions in its top 100, and 20 in the top 500.
Canada’s secondary school students excel in science, reading, and mathematics. In the 2015 PISA results testing Grade 10 students from 65 countries around the globe, Canada ranked 9th on the Reading Scale, 7th in Science, and 10th in Maths ahead of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and France. High-quality French and English language teaching are also reasons students choose Canada.
Canada Is Multicultural and Open to the World: Canada is officially bilingual (English and French), and across the country, more than 200 languages are spoken. The biggest cities, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, are home to many immigrant communities and one finds all sorts of ethnicities across the country. A tolerant culture is among the top Canadian values—informally, on the streets and public venues, and formally, in Canada’s laws and government. Of particular note is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that enshrines equality for all.
Canada Is Innovative: Canada’s educational institutions have long been incubators for innovation. The BlackBerry, flat-screen technology, SMART boards, voice compression applications for cell phones and computers, and IMAX film are among the many revolutionary technologies invented and developed by men and women who studied in Canada.
Canada Produces Leaders: Among these are the environmentalist David Suzuki; the famous architect Frank Gehry (Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, Walt Disney Concert Hall, etc.); the economist John Kenneth Galbraith (who served in the administrations of US presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson); the cinematographer James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar); the author Margaret Atwood; musicians Justin Bieber, Sarah McLachlan, and Celine Dion; and actors Rachel McAdams, Jim Carrey, Kiefer Sutherland, and Ryan Gosling.
Canada Is a Highly Competitive Economy: Canada has one of the world’s most stable economies. Canada also boasts one of the fastest economic growth rates among the G8 countries, and the International Monetary Fund predicts this trend to continue. The OECD has recently predicted that Canada will lead G-7 growth in the next 50 years. Moreover, Canada ranks:
- In the top 15 most competitive economies in the world (Source: Conference Board);
- 2nd of the G-7 countries in ability to attract long-term business investment due to sound economic infrastructure (Source: Global Infrastructure Investment Index);
- 1st among G8 countries for “soundest banking system” (Source: World Economic Forum);
- In the top 10 of best places to do business in the world (Source: Forbes).
Canada Is a Major Player in Collaborative Research and Development: Many of Canada’s educational institutions are engaged in international research partnerships to address major issues facing our world today. Canadian institutions recognize that Canadian research receives a crucial boost in terms of reputation and impact when quality international partners contribute. Many of the world’s most pressing problems are international in scope, and Universities Canada notes:
“Canada’s universities are known for conducting world-class research. Globally, we punch well above our weight in output: we rank sixth in terms of average citation levels across all fields among the top scientific countries and produce four per cent of the world’s scientific papers despite representing only one percent of the world’s population. Canada’s universities, are key economic drivers of regional and national prosperity, and a powerhouse of research and development activities, performing 40 per cent of the nation’s total R&D, valued at $13 billion each year. University researchers collaborate on more than $1 billion worth of research with community and non-profit community groups every year and conduct almost $1 billion worth of research in collaboration with the private sector annually, providing the “intellectual raw material” that drives innovation and builds prosperity.”
Examples of projects include the innovative NEPTUNE ocean floor laboratory; the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative; ArcticNet, a revolutionary approach for studying the effects of climate change; and Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network (CANARIE Inc.), which facilitates research and development around the world.
To many people in other countries, the word “Canada” evokes images of wide-open spaces, dramatic mountains, pristine forests, and majestic lakes. All of this is true, and our landscape and beauty is a huge part of Canadian identity. But it’s not all of it.
Canada is also known to be a modern, progressive nation with open-minded citizens who are proud of our diverse origins and ethnic diversity. We produce athletes, artists, and engineers, doctors and architects, writers and scientists. There is a place for every type of talent in Canada, and the mix of people and specializations creates a vibrant, exciting society that’s secure but also dynamic and open to change
A few years ago one of Canada’s national newspapers, The Globe and Mail, interviewed various people about how they would sum up Canadian culture in an article entitled, “Canadian culture: A category?” One respondent, an immigrant to Canada, was quoted as saying:
“Canadians are very accepting people, very polite, very honest. It’s part of their culture. That’s why they accept new people. They are also more interested in other cultures these days. People like to try different foods, different ways of dress. They want to see the world and learn about new cultures. Not only do Canadians accept people into their country and their society, they accept aspects of other cultures into their own. Canadian society is composed of many different cultures, sharing their culture with each other. Canada is definitely multicultural. It’s also Canadian.”
With a country as large as Canada, there are also very different regional cultures: people in the Maritime region in the east of the country are quite different than those on the West Coast (e.g., in British Columbia). And Quebec, Canada’s majority French-speaking province, has its own unique customs and sense of identity (often deemed more “European” than the rest of Canada), with a rich arts, entertainment, and music scene. See more about regional culture in an upcoming section, Geography and Regions.
There are dozens of different sports played, among them hockey, baseball, basketball, and soccer (often known as football in Europe)—and skiing is another national passion. Canada is home to every cuisine in the world: diners can choose anything from Indian, Thai, or Chinese to Ethiopian, Mexican, or French—and that’s not including all the other options.
Major national, regional, and international festivals either originate or pass through Canada during the year, providing another wonderful benefit to studying in Canada.
Perhaps stemming in part from the rich culture and lifestyle Canadians enjoy, Canada placed 6th in the United Nations’ 2016 World Happiness Report (a 2015 United Nations survey) after Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Finland. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2016 liveability report ranks three of Canada’s largest cities in the top five ideal destinations in the world to live due to a widespread availability of goods and services, low personal risk, and an effective infrastructure. According to the Global Peace Index (2014) Canada is ranked in the top 10 most peaceful countries in the world, keeping company with the likes of Iceland, Denmark, and New Zealand. Canada regularly ranks in the top 10 on the United Nations’ Human Development Index, a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standards of living, and quality of life.
When choosing a place to study, students often factor in culture and lifestyle as well as educational merits, whether their program is for a few weeks, months, or several years. For this reason as well as the quality of education, Canada continues to rise as a destination for high-calibre students.
About four-fifths of Canadians live within 160 kilometres of the country’s southern border, where warm springs, hot summers, and pleasantly crisp autumns prevail for at least seven months. Canada’s climate is characterized by its diversity, both from region to region and from season to season. While temperatures can drop below 0°C for a few months every year, Canada has four very distinct seasons: spring (March–May), summer (June–August), fall (September–October), and winter (November–February).
Canada’s seasonal temperature variations are embraced by Canadians: there are so many leisure activities to choose from as a result, from swimming outdoors in the summer to skiing in the winter! Foreign students should know that all buildings in which they will study are well heated in winter months. Many campuses have underground tunnels through which students can move from building to building in the wintertime so as not to get cold. In short, winter is beautiful in Canada, and it is very easy to stay warm simply by dressing properly when going outdoors. Agents should advise students studying in Canada during winter months to invest in needed clothing, including a warm coat, a hat, mittens or gloves, a scarf, and boots.
For more detailed weather information visit: www.weatheroffice.gc.ca
Five Essential Points for students:
- Colleges and institutes are excellent choices for international students interested in more applied education, specifically geared to their desired profession/career, with smaller class sizes and hands-on learning opportunities.
- The strength of the non-university system in Canada is its variety. These institutions offer varying levels of credential (e.g., post-graduate certificates, diplomas, baccalaureate degrees) that take anywhere from a few months to four years—this time/money flexibility can be very helpful to the international student.
- Many institutions offer transfer programs that enable students to complete courses through the college/institute and then transfer into a university with credit toward their university degrees.
- When compared to studying in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, Canada offers the lowest tuition rates for international students.
- Canadian colleges and institutes offer “quality education for quality employment” through applied, competency-based programs that respond to needs of employers. By combining their studies with applied research and/or internships, students get the practical experience employers are searching for. Canadian colleges and institutes boast excellent student employment rates—generally, over 90% find jobs in their desired career after graduation.