Over the past few years, an increasing number of students in the UAE have been selecting Canada as a destination for higher studies. More than 130,000 students from all over the world live and study in Canada each year.

By Anmber Siddiqui (Contributor)

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Published: Sat 9 Apr 2005, 2:32 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 5:56 PM

Canada continues to be a popular choice for international students for several reasons such as tuition costs, opportunity to work, and quality of education.

Santosh M. is in his final year at a local Indian school. He scored above a 1,300 on his SAT and has an outstanding academic history. This Fall, Santosh will join the University of Toronto to pursue a Bachelor in Business Administration. "I have been accepted to five US universities and five Canadian universities," said Santosh. "I chose to go to Canada because it is supposed to be safe, it is cheaper than the US, and the University of Toronto has a very good business programme that is recognised all over the world."

Canadian universities such as University of Toronto and Queen's University have world-renowned programmes in a variety of disciplines. Many Canadian programmes are ranked among the top in the world. And thus, are highly competitive and sought-after.

Studying in Canada offers many advantages:


Canadian fees are among the lowest in English-speaking countries. Tuition costs range from $6,500 to$17,000, which are significantly lower than American universities. The cost of living will run to approximately $7,500 per year for housing, food, entertainment, and other expenses.

Opportunity to Work

Students are also allowed to work on campus for up to 20 hours a week. Some full-time students in public post-secondary institutions in Manitoba, New Brunswick, and certain regions of Quebec may apply for a work permit that will allow them to work off-campus. The requirements will vary from one province to another.

For some academic programmes, work experience is part of the curriculum. Co-op and Internship programmes offer such experience and are quite popular. Foreign students must apply for a work permit and adhere to certain guidelines and criteria. For graduate students, some students may apply to work in a job related to their field of study for up to one year after graduation.

Quality of Life

Canada was also ranked by the United Nations as the best place in the world to live. The assessment was based upon Canada's achievements in terms of educational attainment, life expectancy, national income and general quality of life. It also included Canada's abundance of fresh water, comfortable population density, low incidence of violent crime and a health care system that is a model for the world.

Types of Institutions

In Canada, post-secondary institutions are divided into two major types: universities and community colleges. The university provides academic programmes leading to degrees (BA, BSc, MA, MSc, PhD, etc.). The community college offers certificate and diploma programmes in career and vocational training.

Academic transfers from community colleges to universities are sometimes possible. In Quebec, colleges d'enseignement general et professional (CEGEPS) offers two types of programmes: vocational programmes are 3 years, and pre-university programmes are 2 years. Some of these colleges offer degrees themselves, and a number offer university transfer programmes or provide programmes jointly with neighbouring universities.

Canadian education is similar to that of the US, as an undergraduate programme is usually four years in duration and graduate programmes are two years. A degree from a Canadian university is considered equivalent to an American degree. There is no formal system of university-wide institutional accreditation. Instead, membership of AUCC, in conjunction with the university's provincial government charter, is seen as serving in lieu of institutional accreditation, both in Canada and abroad. In addition, graduate programmes and professional schools such as law, nursing, medicine and engineering have rigorous discipline-specific accreditation procedures. Computer science is also developing its own accreditation system.

The most popular areas of study are business, engineering, biotechnology and computer science, nursing, and psychology and Canadian universities place a great deal of emphasis on research.

In fact, 25 per cent of Canada's research capacity is found in our universities. Students at Canadian universities are frequently involved in research projects, often during their early undergraduate years. Professors see research as an integral component to their classroom teaching. Canadian university research has yielded a wealth of innovations as important as insulin, Pablum, the artificial pacemaker, improved strains of wheat, and the identification of the genetic causes of diseases such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease.

The writer is the President of American Canadian Centre for Academic Placement (ACAP) located in Dubai Knowledge Village. Anmber is a graduate of University of Houston, Texas. She has worked extensively with international students in the US and abroad and is an active member of Association of International Educators (NAFSA), Overseas Educational Advisors (OSEAS) and the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).

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