Canada: The prestigious educational hub
Leading institutions in Canada accommodate a large number of international students on a yearly basis
Canada is gaining popularity among youngsters from this region. According to Citizenship and Immigration's overview, Canada saw more international students enrolling in its institutions in the last year than it has seen in a decade.
The UN consistently ranked Canada as one of the best places in the world to live. 245,895 international students are currently benefitting from Canadian education. Canada offers a diverse range of higher education options and prepares students for a globalised world, as every campus has people of numerous cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Students have the option of living in a cosmopolitan city with skyscrapers, large parks, libraries, stadiums, facilities to ski, swim, camp, canoe, hike and bike; in a small town; a research-focused institution; or a small liberal arts institution in a rural community. Canada's higher education institutions, like its programmes, are diverse and well-recognised.
Moreover, after completion of the course, students can opt for the Canadian Experience Class immigration programme that was launched in September 2008. The programme allows individuals who have completed a degree and a year of work experience in Canada to apply for permanent residence. Immigration applicants under the Canadian Experience Class are given priority status and do not have to leave the country to apply for permanent residence.
Flexibility, affordability ?and choice make it an attractive destination for international students.
Canada has 96 public and private not-for-profit universities (as of 2016) that are members of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). Between them, they offer a number of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral level courses in addition to certificate, diploma and professional qualifications.
Apart from this, there are a number of members of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC). These are public institutions offering credentials approved by provincial and territorial governments. Programmes vary in length from a few months to four years. Most of the courses offered are practical, designed to meet market requirements and offer work placements.
Types of Qualifications
Undergraduate programmes with a duration of three to four years lead to a Bachelor's degree. Honours degree programmes necessitate additional credits.
On completion, students can pursue postgraduate study that involves one to two years of study and includes a thesis, practicum or research paper, leading to a Master's degree. Doctoral or PhD programmes require two to three years of study and students have to submit a thesis based on research. Certificate and diploma programmes vary in length. Career-focused short-term courses are also popular. Students can avail opportunities for cooperative education and internships as well as work on and off campus.
The provinces of Ontario and British Columbia have a centralised application system for admission. The Ontario Universities Application Centre (http://www.ouac.on.ca/) is Ontario's application hub while British Columbia's centralised application system is administered through myBCcampus (https://portal.bccampus.ca).
According to the AUCC, Alberta province has rolled out its centralised online application and transcript transfer system for students applying to its post-secondary education institutions. All of Alberta's public colleges and universities have started using the system, called ApplyAlberta ?(www.applyalberta.ca), launched in September 2010, making it the third province with a centralised application system in Canada.
Prospective international students should demonstrate proficiency in English or French as per the language of instruction in the institution being considered. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or Test de Français International (TFI) are the tests to be taken. Students with inadequate language proficiency can enrol in preparatory courses before the commencement of the programme.
Apart from academic profiles, Canadian institutions want students with profiles demonstrating community involvement, leadership skills and extra-curricular pursuits. After completing the online application and paying the application fees, all supporting documents such as transcripts, reference letters, essays, proof of language proficiency, etc. must be sent by courier to ensure complete review of the application.
Each institution sets its own admission criteria. There are no national entrance exams for universities. Academic records of applicants are reviewed as part of the admissions process. The university year is usually from September to April, with intakes in both September and January.
As the application process is competitive and deadlines vary, it is best to apply six to eight months before the start date of the desired programme of study. It is also advisable to apply to multiple institutions to avoid disappointment.
Fees, Finances and ?Scholarships
Costs vary with the institution, programme of study and place of stay, often determining expenses. Typical annual tuition and living expenses vary from C$15,000 (Dh55,247) to C$30,000 (Dh110,465) to cover tuition and living expenses. Students will also require health insurance.
Various scholarships are offered to undergraduate and graduate level applicants.
AUCC administers approximately 180 scholarships as well as a number of fellowships, internships and exchange programmes on behalf of governments, foundations and private sector companies.
Scholarships are usually based on academic merit. Need-based scholarships are available but are limited to the level of individual institutions.
The federal government offers graduate applicants scholarship assistance under the Canada Graduate Scholarship programme. The programme supports 2,500 postgraduate level and 2,500 doctoral level students every year.
Canada has four distinct seasons ranging from warm summer months to cold, wet and snowy winters. Students can take up outdoor sports in the summer; learn to ski, skate, or play ice hockey in the winter and get involved in on campus cultural and extra-curricular activities. Universities and colleges host concerts, lectures by visiting dignitaries, offer fitness facilities, art galleries, research opportunities, and a range of community outreach programmes, as well as study abroad programmes.
Housing is often available on campus or assistance is provided to secure off campus accommodations. All campuses have cutting-edge technology and research labs. Wireless Internet access, gymnasiums, clubs, sports, games, cultural events and recreational facilities abound.
Academic advisors, counsellors and international student associations are available to assist students and facilitate transition in the new environment.
Apart from academic profiles, Canadian institutions want students with profiles demonstrating community involvement, leadership skills and extra-curricular pursuits.
?Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
www.univcan.ca?Association of Community Colleges of Canada
www.collegesinstitutes.ca ?Test of English as a Foreign Language
www.toefl.org?Citizenship and Immigration Canada
www.canada.ca?Canadian Federal and Provincial Governmental Scholarships ?www.scholarships-bourses.gc.ca and
Studying in Canada for a period of six months or more requires a study permit from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Studying in Quebec requires an additional Certificate of Acceptance from the Province of Quebec.
The Citizenship and Immigration Canada website (canada.ca/en/services/immigration-citizenship.html) contains all information related to study permits and processes.
Upon acceptance of admission at a Canadian university, students must fill out the relevant forms and submit it at the relevant Canadian Embassy, along with the university's acceptance letter and a document stating proof of adequate funds to finance tuition, housing, meals, books and supplies during the period of stay in Canada. Medical and security checks may also be required.
Processing of a study permit can vary between three weeks to three months.
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