Source: The TImes of India
During a tour of three provinces in Canada, Malini Sen discovers that the flexibility in the country’s higher education system and the focus on employability are prompting students from India to choose Canada as a study destination.
Every student’s reason to go abroad to study differs. Though reasons may vary, a common aspect of studying abroad is that it transforms lives. Tightening of visa rules in the UK, lesser job opportunities in the US and safety concerns in Australia are factors that have contributed towards making Canada a popular destination for students from India.
India continues to be the number two source country for international students with over 13,000 students choosing Canada as a study destination in 2012 as compared to 2,658 in 2007. Figures for 2013 are not yet available.
“Canada provides a positive alternative for students from India because of its ethnic diversity, ability to integrate the best of both British and American university educational models and the quality of its diversified public post-secondary institutions,” says Allan Cahoon, president and vice-chancellor, Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia.
Higher education in Canada is a provincial responsibility and it comprises two types of institutions — universities and colleges — which offer degree programmes. Community colleges offer degrees in a range of disciplines, but are known for industry-specific courses, which offer applied degrees, diplomas and certificates. Polytechnics and polytechnic universities are another option, which offers a combination of degrees and diplomas in the technical field. Colleges and polytechnics are largely aligned to the needs of the labour market. Canada is recognised for a competency-based teaching approach that prepares students to be productive in the workplace after graduation. Several Canadian colleges and universities offer co-op or internship programmes or work placement programmes as a means of enhancing the curriculum with real-world industry experience.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Canadian education is the cooperative model, known as co-op, that lets a student alternate terms in class with paid terms at work in jobs related to his/her area of study.
“Co-op programmes allow students to gain valuable experience in their fields, develop skills in the workplace, and expand their Canadian network. The co-op model was pioneered in schools such as University of Waterloo and has become the gold standard around the country for programmes, which prepare students for the real world. As well, money earned during these co-op programmes helps towards covering costs. With a foothold in the working world during the course of their studies, when the student graduates, they are more familiar with the expectations of employers, and more job-ready,” says Ivy Lerner-Frank, first secretary for Education at the High Commission of Canada. She adds, “The return on investment is not only the benefit of the education itself, but the possibility of employment during the study period, after graduation with a postgraduation work permit, and then the potential to immigrate through the Canadian Experience Class if you have the right skills.”
The flexibility in the system accommodates students’ different needs and aspirations. “I am from a village in India and when I decided to go abroad to study, I felt I would be more comfortable in a smaller town than a big city. Therefore, I chose Okanagan College in Kelowna. The college has a diploma programme in computer information systems, which suited my academic needs,” says Leo Louis. The programme offered a co-op option and Leo interned at the Disney Studio in Kelowna as a software engineer. “I interned for a year and found a part-time job till the end of my studies, it helped me to cover my expenses.” The programme was for two and a half years including the co-op term and Leo on completing his studies in April 2013, found a job.
Traditionally, the MTV towns, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, were popular with students from India, but in the last few years, students have been opting for institutions in other parts as well. “Canadians have the reputation of being peaceful and welcoming. The country has all the advantages of a developed nation whilst maintaining a low crime rate and less congestion. Compared to other top ranked universities in Canada, University of Saskatchewan has affordable fees and the cost of living in the city is feasible. I live in university residence; I have met students from across the world and it is very safe,” says Sherin McDonald, BSc (double honours) programme, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.
Internships and collaborative research have also become an integral part of international education. Canada launched the Mitacs Globalink internship programme in 2009 to encourage student mobility. While in 2012 a research network, India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability (ICIMPACTS), was launched to find solutions to community problems.
Prepare the supporting documents for your application Note:
Documents which are in a language other than English or French must be translated. Ensure that you provide all required documents, including: Letter of acceptance from the Canadian institution Valid passport Financial documents as requested in the application kit, including six months of banking history IELTS test results taken within the last 24 months are strongly recommended as proof of English language proficiency CAQ (if you plan to study in Quebec) – Quebec Acceptance Certificate
Complete the study permit application:
The form can be obtained on the website of the VFS Visa Application Center (see www.vfs-canada .co.in). Follow the instructions carefully, complete all forms, and submit all required documents You do not need someone to assist you with the application.All applications are treated equally, regardless of who submitted them. However, if you engage the services of an agent or a friend, you as the applicant are responsible for the truthfulness of all information submitted
Submit your application as soon as possible:
The ideal time is between two and four months before the start of the course. Submit your application at any VFS Visa Application Center. Pay the processing fee and refer to checklist to ensure that your application is complete
Your application will be reviewed:
If the visa officer is satisfied with your application and if your course of study is longer than six months, you will be asked to undergo a medical exam. Once the medical examination has been reviewed, a final decision will be made on your case
High Commission of Canada: www.india.gc.ca
Study in Canada: www.educationau-incanada .ca
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada: www.aucc.ca
Association of Canadian Community Colleges: www.accc.ca
India Canada Alumni Network: www.ican.net.in