With the US Government contemplating tightening of the H1B Visas, students are feeling uncertain about pursuing higher studies in the Big Apple. Also, they are getting contradictory information from their peers. It can be unnerving for an aspiring student. Therefore, many students are looking forward to alternate locations. Canada is one such option. Let us now explore Canada as a location for higher studies abroad.
We shall look at all aspects such as the education system in Canada, visa requirements, post-study options, and many more.
Canada – The Country
Canada is the largest country in the North American region. In spite of being gigantic, it does not have a large population. Consisting of 10 provinces and 3 territories, Canada is the second largest country in the world, area wise. Many students from India and other countries prefer Canada as a destination for pursuing vocational and diploma courses.
Canada – The Education System
There are 90 universities in Canada, of which 17 are private. Also, you have around 150 community colleges imparting technical and vocational education. The Universities offer three levels of degrees.
- Bachelor’s – Four-year course
- Master’s – An additional two years (There are 1-year Master’s courses also)
- Doctorate – Usually, an additional three years
The medium of education is English and French. Students have the option to choose their media. Some of the popular student destinations are The University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, McGill University, and Simon Fraser University.
Canada – The Weather
Canada has five time zones and three different types of climate.
- Montreal weather – Cold and snowy with winter temperatures touching -150C, though it can go up to 250C in the summer months.
- Toronto weather – More comfortable, but winter temperature can go down to -100C while summers are pleasant as the temperature can go up to 250
- Vancouver weather – The temperature in this region is mild throughout the year, but it can rain a lot. The average temperature in winter is in the range of 30C to 70
Canada – The Lifestyle
Canadians are open-minded and non-interfering people. It is a multicultural and diverse population out there in Canada. Remember these following tips in dealing with people.
- Be punctual
- Show respect in behaviour and conversation
- Show respect to the opposite gender
- Do not crack ethnic or racist jokes at anyone’s expense
- Avoid questions like salary, age and so on while dealing with people you do not know.
- Learn French as it can be useful to you
- It can take some time to understand their accent
- Canadians use slang frequently, and you can take time getting used to it.
- Canadians love humour
- They use a lot of abbreviations, hence, be aware of them.
- Participate in all group activities
- Try to make friends with Canadian people
Many Indians live in Canada, especially in Vancouver and Toronto. Parts like Gerrard Street in Toronto have a reputation for being a mini India.
Canada – Student Life
You have a choice between university managed accommodation and a private landlord. University accommodation usually comes with a catered option. The advantage is that you get good food with certainty. However, you can also choose to have your cooking arrangements. The University accommodation office can help you by providing a list of private properties and landlords in your area. You have the internet to assist you in this matter. You might have to pay a deposit and sign a rental agreement. Read it thoroughly before signing on the dotted line.
Every university or community college will have an Orientation Week at the commencement of the course. Attend it regularly. You get a chance to learn more about the culture, the University rules, and so on. It is an excellent opportunity to meet some students from your country and other countries as well.
· Extra-curricular activities
Usually, every university will have an exclusive club for students of the same nationality. Enrol in such clubs and participate in the cultural activities. You mix with other students from your country and develop excellent relations with people. Primarily, it prevents you from becoming homesick.
Canada – The Admission Process
It depends on the course you wish to pursue. However, Indian students have to meet a minimum English language requirement. They need a minimum score of 6.5 in the IELTS with no individual score below 6. Also, it is better to have a first class graduate degree with aggregate marks over 65%. The student should have a consistently good record at college. The number of accumulated arrears in college should be below 6. A score of 70% to 80% in the science and commerce streams and above 65% in the arts and humanities stream is necessary. However, each university has its eligibility criteria.
· Documents required
- Attested copies of all marksheets starting from Std X
- Two LOR’s from professors who taught you recently in college
- Students with work experience can submit LOR from their employer/manager
- IELTS/GMAT/TOEFL Scoresheet
- Proof of funds
- Medical tests
Usually, you have to apply online for Canadian universities and community colleges. Scan your documents to upload on the university website. All colleges require you to pay an application fee. The steps to follow are as listed herewith.
- Search the internet for colleges and courses
- Visit the official websites for additional information
- Narrow down your list
- Take the entrance examinations like GRE, GMAT, IELTS, TOEFL, and so on
- Prepare your SOPs and seek LORs
- Apply for colleges that fit your interests
- Some colleges require you to appear for a video interview
- Keep the funds ready
- If accepted, apply for the student visa.
· Statement of Purpose
The Statement of Purpose is the document that enables you to interact directly with the Admission Officers on a personal level. Use it to highlight why you deserve admission to the university. It should reflect your personality.
· Letter Of Recommendation
You can ask your professors or your employer/manager who knows you well to submit a Letter of Recommendation to the University. The LOR should describe your qualities, characteristics, and capabilities to handle the toughest of the situation in life.
Some universities, especially those conducting the MBA courses need you to submit an essay describing your strengths, weaknesses, skills, and experience. Usually, these essays are in the form of questions and answers.
Usually, there are two intake seasons in Canada, September, and January. Some colleges have intakes in May, July, and October. The primary intake season is September as it coincides with the academic calendar in India. However, you should ensure to complete your Visa formalities by July.
· Language exams
You need to apply for IELTS to prove your proficiency in the English language. You can also appear for TOEFL or the PTE. Canadian Universities and colleges accept all the three proficiency qualifications. You should clear these examinations by the end of November to apply for the September intake.
· General Tests
These tests depend on the course you select in the university. If you are opting for a course such as the MBA, you should clear the GMAT. Students pursuing MS or MA need to appear for the GRE. Students desirous to apply for the undergraduate courses should take the SAT whereas law students should prepare for the LSAT.
Canada – Cost of Living
The cost of living in Canada depends on the area where you study. Anyway, you need to show the requisite amount of funds to cater to the following expenses.
- Groceries and food
There are other expenses as well. It depends on the individual. They are expenses like travel, vacation, car rent, cable TV and so on.
On an average, you incur CAD 10,000 to CAD 15,000 per year for your living expenses.
It depends on the course you wish to take. A 2-year course could cost you a maximum if CAD 55000 whereas the fees for an undergraduate course is in the range of CAD 10,000 to CAD 30,000.
Insurance is mandatory in Canada. Ensure that your policy covers everything from medical costs, personal accident, dental treatment, loss of passport, interruption in studies, and so on. Note that it is a cashless insurance policy. Hence, you need not pay any money at the time of hospitalization.
Most of the universities and community colleges in Canada have merit-based scholarships. However, you should note the deadlines and apply in time. Usually, they are on a first-come-first-served basis. You might have to submit the following documents to be eligible for a scholarship.
- Academic achievements
- A recent CV
- Letter of intent
- IELTS Scores
- Letter of Recommendation
Banks and NBFCs in India sanction education loans to students studying abroad. Some of the institutions like Credila and Avanse have collateral-free loans up to a specific amount for higher studies in Canada. The Indian public sector banks give education loans with adequate collateral for loans over ₹ 7.50 lakhs.
Canada – Visa
You are eligible to apply for a student visa to Canada after securing your admission letter from the college. You should begin the visa application process by the end of May or the first week of June if you aim for the September intake. You need to produce the following documents.
- Proof of acceptance – You should submit the original letter of admission while applying for the student visa.
- Proof of financial support – The Visa Officer will ask for proof of finances to support yourself in Canada throughout the entire duration you will be in Canada.
- The visa officer might seek submission of other documents like university transcripts, test scores, and bank statements.
The visa process
You can apply for your student visa in two ways.
- Apply online – You will need to upload all your documents online. However, you will have to provide a fingerprint scan at the Visa Application Centre. You make the payment online using a valid credit card.
- Apply in person – Download the application kit from the website and go through the instruction guide. Fill up the form manually using the document checklist. Pay the processing fee and visit the VAC for a fingerprint scan. You can apply online and submit the documents in person at a VFS office in your city.
- Medical Exam – The visa application process for Canada requires a compulsory medical examination for Indian applicants. You get the list of panel physicians at the Canada immigration website. The physician sends the report directly to the CIC.
Canada – Work Permit
You should satisfy the following eligibility criteria to get a Post-Study work permit in Canada.
- You should have pursued a full-time course of not less than 8 months in Canada.
- Apply for the work permit within 90 days after receiving an official letter from the institution that you have completed your education.
- You get a work permit only if you have a student visa
- Usually, the work permit period does not exceed the course duration. However, if you pursue a course that takes more than 2 years, you get a work permit for 3 years
Your spouse can join you in Canada on a dependent visa provided you satisfy the visa officer that you have adequate funds to support the spouse. Spouses can work full time if their stay is for a year or more.
Canada – Checklist before you board the plane
- Purchase your air tickets in advance to get the benefit of low rates
- Buy travel and health insurance
- Look out for accommodation, at least a temporary one
- Arrange for transportation
- Procure the necessary foreign exchange
- Check for baggage allowances
- Complete all paperwork with the university in your home country
Ensure you have the following documents in order
- Airline tickets
- Travel insurance
- Admission letter
- Key addresses and phone numbers
- Bank statement
- Prescription for medicines you carry
- Necessary foreign exchange in cash or travel card
- Medical and immunization records
- Academic certificates and marksheets
Canada – On Landing in Canada
- Phone your parents that you have reached safely
- It is natural to feel homesick. However, things improve after a few days.
- Explore the campus to familiarize with the surroundings
- Join the Indian Students Club
- Get your student ID card
- Open a local bank account
- Avail the benefit of student services
- Learn some basic cooking skills
Canada – Post Studies in Canada
You can gain work experience through the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP). It will help you qualify for permanent residency in Canada through the Canadian Experience Class.
- Apply for the work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation from your college that you have completed the academic programme.
- Get the application package and fill up the necessary forms.
- Pay the Open Work Permit Holder Fee and the Standard Work Permit fee
- Mail the application to the address mentioned in the application kit.
There is no concept of placement in the Canadian colleges and universities. You have to contact the Career Services Cell available at each college. They help you attend interviews and get jobs. Usually, companies offer you an internship while you are at college to judge your capability before offering you a job.
Cooperative Education Programme
In these programmes, the period of study alternates with work. This program recruits students while still in school to fill up permanent posts upon graduation. You should apply for work as well as study permit together. The eligibility criteria are as follows.
- You should have a valid study visa
- Your employment should be related to your studies in Canada
- Your employment must be part of your academic programme.
We have seen a comprehensive student guide to study in Canada. This information should help you a lot.