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10 things you need to know about studying in Canada

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6 minutes

Have you considered moving to Canada to study? With more than 100 world-class universities across the country, there’s good reason to. From coast to coast to coast, it offers many international students a safe and supportive learning environment – as well as the opportunity to work after graduation.  

Want to learn more? In this guide, we cover 10 things you should know about studying in Canada:  

1. Canada is incredibly diverse 

More than one in five Canadians were born outside the country – making Canada one of the most multicultural places in the world. According to the most recent statistics, nearly half of the people born outside Canada are from Asia. About 28% of the people are from Europe, and 8.5% are from Africa. Even more, 37.5% of children in Canada were either born abroad or have a foreign-born parent.  

A large number of students at Canadian universities and colleges also come from abroad – which is a big draw for many international students. In fact, international students are driving university enrolment across Canada!  

Discover the five most diverse and multicultural cities in Canada!  

2. The country has two official languages 

Canada has two official languages: English and French. The English-speaking part of the population is called anglophone, while the French-speaking part of the population is called francophone. About 23% of people in Canada have French as their first language, and the majority of them live in the province of Quebec. There are also more than 100 French-speaking universities and colleges across Canada.  

It’s important to note that federal government institutions are all bilingual. This means you can submit your student visa documents in either English or French. When you enter Canada at the border, you’ll also notice the officer will greet you by saying “bonjour, hello” (or vice versa) 

In addition to English and French, there are also 70 indigenous languages spoken in Canada. 

3. Tuition costs can be more reasonable  

International student tuition fees in Canada are usually lower than in places like the US and UK. However, they are still a big expense. According to the government website EduCanada, tuition ranges between $1,800 CAD–$20,000 CAD per year for an undergraduate university degree. Colleges are sometimes less expensive; however, tuition can still reach $18,000 CAD per year.  

4. There are scholarships available  

Good news: there are lots of scholarships for international students in Canada. Many scholarships, called entrance scholarships, are offered to students by institutions upon acceptance based on academic performance. So, you don’t have to apply for them.  

Others are offered by the government. For example, if you’re studying in the province of Ontario, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program offers masters and doctoral students up to $15,000. To learn more about scholarships and awards for international students, EduCanada is a good resource.  

5. Institutions provide lots of support 

Universities and colleges in Canada want their international students to succeed. Your institution will have an international student office that should provide services like visa and health insurance support, upskilling workshops, and advice on how to adjust to life in Canada. There will also be campus-wide support services. These include: 

  • Mentorship programs 

  • Mental health services 

  • Academic accommodations 

  • Language workshops

  • Housing support

  • Employment support  

Find out how you can seek help from international student communities.  

6. On-campus housing is a community hub  

The majority of institutions in Canada offer on-campus housing. Sometimes, student residences are reserved for first-year students. But many universities and colleges will also offer on-campus housing to students coming from abroad.  

Residences can consist of dorm rooms, private studio apartments, or shared houses, and often come with a meal plan. Living on-campus is a great way to meet new people from around the world – and for many students, residences become a real community hub.   

But, you can still have a student housing experience off-campus. In most cities, there are student housing options that aren’t affiliated with any particular institutions, but still offer a similar experience with the same amenities – things like cafeterias, study spaces, and entertainment areas.  

Curious about how much it costs to live in Canada? Our student guide examines the living costs across a number of major cities – including Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax. 

7. You might be able to work while you study  

As an international student in Canada, you can only work if you’re enrolled full-time at a designated learning institution (DLI). If so, you’ll be able to work for 20 hours per week off-campus, and full-time during scheduled semester breaks. Your study permit should have your work conditions printed on it.  

However before you begin work, you’ll need to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). This is free and only takes a few minutes to do online.  

How much you make will depend on where you live. The minimum wage in Canada varies by province and territory. For example, in Ontario minimum wage is $14.25 per hour while in British Columbia it’s $15.20 per hour.  

Check out these 10 part-time jobs for international students in Canada!  

8. Travel can be expensive – but there are some cheaper options 

Did you know Canada is the second-largest country in the world? It has a landmass of 9.1 million square kilometers! This is one reason traveling in Canada is expensive. There are also high airport taxes and a lack of competition in the aviation industry, so flying can be particularly pricey. For example, a 1-hour flight between Toronto and Montreal can cost up to $300.  

However, if you want to explore the country – and travel is deemed safe by government authorities this year to do so – there are some cheaper ways to see Canada. For example, the country’s train service VIA Rail offers discounts to students and riders under 25. Alternatively, Megabus is a discount bus service that offers routes throughout Canada and the U.S.   

9. Canada offers post-study visas  

Want to settle in Canada after you graduate? You’re not alone. Three in 10 international students who came to Canada after 2000 have become permanent residents.  

Canada offers a few ways for students to work in the country after graduation. For example, the post-graduation work permit could allow you to stay in Canada for up to three years after studying, if you are eligible. You could also apply for a work permit through an employer.  

10. Canadians value a global perspective  

Having international experience in Canada is viewed as a big advantage. Nearly every university in the country offers their students the opportunity to study or work abroad. Better yet, 80% of employers that hire people with international and intercultural experience say it makes their business better.  

To study in Canada, most students need to take an English language proficiency test. PTE Academic is accepted by more than 200 Canada institutions – and the best choice to help you get accepted.