A world-class education, more diverse academic course options, a flexible and hands-on based pedagogy, excellent career prospects, a desire to get a taste of a multi-cultural milieu, aspirations to live and work abroad – these are some of the reasons for students to consider foreign Universities as their academic destinations, for undergraduate as well as graduate education. Over the years, this trend has only gained more momentum, with US, Canada, UK, Australia and Singapore have become the ‘academic Mecca’ for most students.
Besides the excitement of spreading your wings to a foreign land, ready to face the adventure of a new culture, it is pertinent to take a prudent view of the country that may be most suitable for you. After all, higher education is a life-long investment that continues to yield dividends for life.
Here is a list of reasons (in no particular order though) that make Canada a preferred destination. Seen from an Indian applicant’s perspective, the country deserves serious thought when zeroing down on your study abroad plans.
Excellent quality of education
Canada is acknowledged as a country with very high education standards. Many of the world’s top-ranking colleges and Universities are in Canada. Most of them are on par with leading universities of the US and UK. Besides being globally recognized for its quality of education, it also lends an experiential learning methodology, which is a welcome change from the predominantly rote-based education system in most Indian Universities. An opportunity to delve into projects, case-studies, team work and seminars, all undergraduate, MS and MBA students at Canadian Universities find themselves well equipped to handle rigours of a challenging course of study, while simultaneously getting ready to face challenges of the real-world industry environment. Such an immersive study environment allows for more than sharpening one’s subject-specific expertise; it also gives students a platform to garner important industry-relevant skills – analytical acumen, delivering quality output amidst immense pressure, and the ability to collaborate and function as effective team players.
Greater study options
While the Indian education system predominantly focuses on imparting domain-specific knowledge, the Canadian education system is more holistic. For instance, an Indian student aspiring to pursue a course in Traditional of contemporary Dance or Theater may not get the leeway to pursue a full-fledged degree, and end up with a Diploma. Canadian Universities, however, offer a wider range of degree options. Even for students aspiring for STEM courses, Canadian universities offer more specific sub-fields (allowing for greater depth of knowledge), and more intense research opportunities in a particular area of study than its Indian counterparts.
Abundant research opportunities
The freedom to ask questions, the ability to think beyond predetermined confines of knowledge, and the spirit of innovation is the bedrock of sound Education. Canadian universities, with their abundant research opportunities, rank amongst the top ones in the world that lend the latitude for all the above, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In fact, many of these universities have earned the credibility of being pioneers in groundbreaking research. The faculty works on the principle of being ‘educational facilitators’, rather than merely delivering knowledge through lectures. Canadian universities acknowledge the spirit of research in students, and support innovative ideas and research work through scholarships.
A high-tech academic and work environment
Canada is at the forefront of modern technology, particularly in domains of Computer Science, Information Technology, Telecommunications, Environmental Science, Health Sciences, and Biotechnology, to name a few. Its strengths and presence in the field of Information and Communications Technology is especially strong. Canada was amongst the pioneering countries to amalgamate ICT with schools and libraries, particularly those from remote areas across the country, with the aim of making education accessible to all. This model is now being emulated by other countries.
Ease of employment
For a student, the ease (or otherwise) of getting a post-study work visa is a critical component in making the decision to choose a country as an academic destination. Armed with a study permit in Canada, a student can work on campus as well as off campus, without a work permit. There are numerous opportunities, such as those as a teaching, research or lab assistant within campus, and in hospitality and as tutors outside the campus. Students can work part-time, for up to 20 hours a week. They can work full-time during semester breaks. This eases the financial burden on students during their period of study in Canada. Students can also work as full-time employees for up to three years after they graduate from a Canadian University.
Compare this to the more stringent after-study prospects in the US. The 3-year leeway to stay in the US is restricted to students who have completed STEM-based programs. For other students, this period is only for a year after completion of their studies.
Better immigration prospects
Canada is on its way towards adopting the ‘Global Talent Stream’ (GTS) program, according to which Indians with a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) background will be the foremost beneficiaries. It is anticipated that, under the GTS program, the processing time for applications filed by sponsoring employers will take a meagre two weeks, and subsequently, those hired under this program will have an edge while applying for permanent residency under the (point-based) ‘Express Entry Route’. This is certainly great news for Indian students, especially in a scenario where, according to very recent news, the US is contemplating to impose “admission bonds”, which is sure to hit the student community seeking employment opportunities in the US.
Canadian Universities have the lowest tuition fees amongst the other English-speaking countries. It is significantly lower as compared to their US counterparts. Scholarships, which are available aplenty, both from the Canadian government as well as individual universities, further ease this financial burden on students. Not only the tuition fee, but also the overall cost of living in Canada is lower than that in the US. In fact, international students are automatically considered for the ‘International Tuition Award’ if they are registered in full-time research-oriented Master’s and Doctoral programs.
Respect for diversity
Canada is traditionally known to be a country that welcomes multicultural diversity – an absolute necessity for international students who can be assured of a warm and hospitable social environment, as it can have a huge bearing on one’s academic output and personal happiness. The country houses most of the world’s ethnic groups, and has a cosmopolitan environment that eases one’s transition into academic and social life. Canada’s culturally inclusive and liberal society adds to the overall student experience.
Active social life on and off campus
For education to be most effective, it has to be holistic, one that emphasizes not only textual knowledge and academic excellence, but an all-round personal development as well. In this regard too, Canada offers a highly conducive environment to grow horizontally. While informal social and extra-curricular clubs, sports and community service fraternities and students associations represent different interests and ethnicities within campus, an active (and safe) nightlife, and numerous sports and cultural avenues help students network with like-minded people outside campus. This networking is essential for thriving well in personal set-ups and professional scenarios.
Aesthetic beauty and conducive surroundings
Research has revealed that beautiful surroundings positively impact people’s happiness. Canada stands at the top country in the world for its quality of life, for Canadians as well as the international populace. Students also get a chance to experience the superb outdoors – from the Rocky mountains to picturesque landscapes, from the wilderness and natural reserves to the scenic beauty of the prairies. Despite being the second largest country in the world, Canada is known for its sparse population, which is perhaps the reason that it has managed to preserve its natural pristine beauty. A country that welcomes international students with open arms, and also offers a life of incredible adventure, is certainly something to write home about.
Omnipresence of English
Canada has bilingual status, as both English and French are spoken in the country. All Canadian Universities offer courses in English.
Safety of students
In today’s turbulent times, personal safety is a prime consideration for students and their parents. A sense of safety and security is particularly true in case of international students, who are far from their homeland. Canada’s orderliness and high safety quotient is reflected in its relatively low crime rate as compared to that in the US. There is a strict embargo on firearms. Moreover, the country’s non-discriminatory culture is another reason that adds to the security factor. Campuses offer services like ‘Walksafe’ and ‘Walking Alone’, as part of which trained representatives and volunteers assist students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
While all of these factors contribute to Canada’s standing as a preferred academic destination, it is also sagacious to understand your individual requirements and personal expectations from your educational experience, and then make an informed decision. If, after all this self-introspection and analyses, you have decided that Canada it is, go ahead and spread your wings. Taking the big step, backed by a well-planned strategy, is sure to yield you dividends.