Canada beckons

Feb 15, 2013 by

By Sparsh Sharma

With post-degree job opportunities on the decline in much of the developed world, several visa restrictions in the UK, comparatively higher cost of education in the USA, and racist attacks in Australia, Canada is fast emerging as an upcoming destination for many Indian students wanting to study abroad. In several United Nations’ surveys, Canada has been found to be one of the best places to live in the world with low crime rates, high life expectancy, and better access to education.

Jugnu Dutta, an international education consultant from Navi Mumbai, agrees with the trend. “A degree/diploma from a Canadian institution is globally recognised. Canadian immigration process has been relaxed for international students, giving the students an opportunity to look for jobs and eventually apply for Permanent Residency (PR). International students in Canada are permitted to work part time for 20 hours/week (first six months in campus and off campus thereafter). During vacations, international students can work up to 40 hours. Average pay for part time job is C$8 – C$11 per hour. All these factors have made the country a much-preferred destination for Indian students,” says Dutta.

Also, since Canada is one of the most multicultural and diverse countries in the world and accepts people from different backgrounds, international students acclimatise better in Canada than in other countries, according to Imran Kanga, associate director, student services and international relations, Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto. “Traditionally, the UK, USA and Australia were prime destinations for students. At the moment, the US economy is not doing very well and so international students are having trouble finding jobs, especially because in the US, companies have to sponsor visas for students. The UK has put breaks on immigration altogether and students have to leave the country once they are done with their studies. Canada on the other hand welcomes international students from all over the world, as is evident by the work permit incentive that is automatically given to students post their graduation, which allows them to stay in Canada for up to three years after completing their studies. The Canadian economy is very stable, and our financial system is sound. This means that students are not struggling to find work after they graduate, as the market is receptive. This helps because students are able to work and pay back their student loans faster,” he says.

The students get a chance to mix and learn from a diverse peer groups consisting of students from all over the world and from varying work and educational backgrounds. Canada is a very safe place, the people are extremely warm, friendly and students, who go to Canada, have very enriching experiences.

Sharath Janakiraman, current MBA student at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, says, “Despite the rigour, it is not ‘all work and no play’. Social events, exhilarating post-exam celebration parties and various sports activities have been able to add enough fun to my MBA experience. Although this was the first time I am living outside India for such a long time, the warmth of people in Toronto always makes me feel at home.”

The number of international students has increased over the years, in Canada. A trend confirmed by counselors and universities. “Along with the Canadian students, our complement of international students has also grown, from 22 countries represented six years ago, to more than 600 students and 75 countries on campus today,” tells Paul Marck, media relations coordinator, University of British Columbia, Okanagan. Even at universities like Thompson Rivers University, situated in Kamloops (an interior area of British Columbia province), there are international students from more than 80 countries.

Besides many part time jobs available for students, many colleges and universities offer paid or unpaid internships for a few months during the length of the program, especially in post-graduate programs like MBA.

Sheldon Dookeran, assistant director, full time MBA admissions, Rotman School of Management, says, “Students who complete a full time program of study longer than eight months and less than two years can receive a work permit lasting just as long as the program lasted. Better yet, students who complete a program of two years or more in length, such as an undergraduate degree or an MBA, can receive a three-year work permit, within which time they can then apply for PR, if they choose to stay longer. Canada is known for its quality education, cultural comfort and job opportunities. There are 31 student groups and clubs on our campus. Rotman’s strategic location in Toronto and recruiter reputation contributes to its 88% internship rate and 85% employment rate within three months of graduation.”

Many universities and community colleges accept applications on a rolling basis. This means that the admissions committee continues to make offers of admission to qualified applicants until a particular intake reaches its enrolment capacity. However, international students are advised to apply early as admission and scholarships grow more competitive around the second or third deadlines. The application deadline for many programs starting in September (fall) intake starts from the first week of February. At Thompson Rivers University, it starts from mid-May for the September intake. Schulich offers an India MBA program, too, which starts in January and the application deadline for which is November 1.

“All Canadian universities/community colleges have intakes in August/September. Some also provide January/February or May intakes. Few community colleges have three to four intakes in a year. The certificates are usually categorised into certificates, diploma, advanced diploma, bachelor’s degree, post graduate diploma, post graduate certificates, master’s degree and Ph.D. Some of the prominent courses at the graduate level are MBA, PGD in management, MS and LLB while at the undergraduate level; it is the Bachelor of Administrative Studies or Bachelor of Engineering,” adds Dutta.

Unlike India, Canada doesn’t have a central education system and hence is under the jurisdiction of each province. All major universities in Canada are publicly funded whereas the private universities are relatively new and usually offer undergraduate courses. There are approximately 92 universities and 175 community colleges in Canada.

Some popular universities among international students:

  1. University of Toronto
  2. York University
  3. McGill University
  4. University of Alberta
  5. University of British Columbia
  6. Queen’s University

Some popular community colleges among international students:

  1. Centennial
  2. Sheridan
  3. Seneca
  4. Humber
  5. Durham
  6. George Brown

Cost of education – The fees ranges from CAD6,000 to CAD30,000 per year. Usually the universities are more expensive than community colleges. Getting admission in a university is comparatively more difficult than community colleges. Also, most universities accept a minimum of 16 years of education while most community colleges accept 15 years of education.

Canadian visa – The earliest a student can apply for student visa is six months before the start date of the course. The processing time for student visa ranges from 15 days to 30 days for Student Partners Program (SPP) or regular visa respectively. It is recommended to apply for student visa as soon as the student gets the unconditional offer from the university/community college.