Studying in Canada

Posted on 22nd April 2020

In this guest post, David Hawkins of The University Guys explains why students are choosing to study in Canada.

Why study in Canada?

Over the time that I’ve been advising students on international university applications, there’s been a regular stream of big, brash and popular media articles promoting the USA. Students are getting sports scholarships, full financial aid, heading off to Harvard, winning soccer competitions: the US has stolen the headlines.

Quietly, however, the Canadian universities have been steadily advancing, with more and more Canadian universities visiting the UK and recruiting students attracted to the USA’s northern neighbour. In the time of COVID-19, with a steadier response from the Canadian government and a cost-effective option, more students are looking at Canada. So why should students consider Canada?

It’s a mix of the US and UK systems

The structure of a Canadian degree lies in the middle group between the single-subject specialism typical in the UK, and the broad-based degree seen in most places in the USA. Students in Canada identify a general area of study to apply for – such as a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science – within which they will take a range of classes but eventually choose to specialise in one subject: for example a BA with History, or a BS with Biology.

It’s cheaper than the USA

With a system of public higher education, Canadian university fees are typically much cheaper than those in the US. Indeed, you don’t see the extremes of price that the very top-end private US universities can charge. Though this does mean that there are few scholarships or bursaries available at Canadian universities, the average cost level (McGill’s most expensive programme will charge around £25,000 a year) is much cheaper than the US equivalent.

The applications are straightforward

Applying to universities in Canada is, to me, like UCAS without the writing. Most universities won’t ask you to write an application essay or statement, and the information that you do have to provide won’t take you very long. Though (apart from in Ontario or most universities in British Columbia) you will have to apply directly to each university, the processes are easy to navigate and can be completed relatively quickly.

Outcomes are predictable

As applicants aren’t doing much writing, the outcomes of applications to Canadian universities can be easy to predict. If you meet the eligibility requirements for a programme (you’ve taken the right subjects at A Level / IB / Pre U / BTEC) then you cross the first hurdle. The more selective universities will also publish the level of academic achievement that was successful in the previous cycle so that candidates can also see how they stack up to the last year of applicants.

Overall, Canada has some great options for students to consider, and I see more and more students focus their international university search there.

David Hawkins is an independent counselor and one of Europe's most foremost experts on international university admissions.

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