Destination Canada!

Interested in studying in maple leaf country? Niyati Chheda Gala gives you a low down on Canadian opportunities.

Interested in studying in maple leaf country? Niyati Chheda Gala gives you a low down on Canadian opportunities.

One of the key deciding factors when choosing a university or college to study abroad is the potential of future career prospects. Until a couple years ago, the US and UK were the most popular destinations. In recent times however, with the tightening of post-grad work visa rules and regulations in these destinations, countries such as Canada, Singapore, Australia and France are attracting Indian students.

A large number of international students study in Canada. Last year, there were 114,000 international students in Canada from more than 200 countries, a large number amongst them being from India.

So, what is so special about the Canadian education system? Nadine Robitaille from the AUCC (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada) says, “Our education system provides a rich learning and research environment, at an affordable cost.”

Canada has both large and small universities, some at the heart of the country’s biggest and most vibrant urban areas; others are located in small cities with easy access to open spaces and natural beauty. Three Canadian cities – Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary – are among the world`s top five most livable cities, according to The Economist 2012 list.

“Canada is one of the most multicultural nations in the world and students feel at home – and safe – on our campuses and communities. Our universities offer innovative approaches to learning such as co-ops and research internships, and many students are attracted by the opportunity to learn French in Canada,” says Robitaille

The most striking feature of the Canadian education system is it allows international students to stay back upon completion of the program under the Post Graduate Work Permit Program (PGWPP) and gain relevant international experience.

“PGWPP provides graduating students with Canadian work experience. International students may accept employment anywhere in Canada for a maximum of three years upon completion of their studies. The work permit of course cannot be valid longer than the length of time the student studied,” informs Richard Levin, executive director, Enrolment Services & University Registrar at the University of Toronto.

“Toronto offers one of the most vibrant and diverse employment markets in Canada for students to add North American work experience to their resume,” adds Greg Coelho, associate director, International Centre, George Brown College.

"Some provinces, such as British Columbia and Manitoba, provide a fast track to permanent residency status,” says Nello Angerilli, associate vice president, International, University of Waterloo. It is opportunities such as these that make it worth for an international student to invest in a Canadian degree or diploma. “82 per cent of international students at University of Toronto felt long term employability was an important factor”, adds Levin.

A lot of programs come with the opportunity to get a co-op in their field of study, As per Coelho, “Over 75 per cent of the programs at George Brown comprise a co-op work term. This work term is spent in a job related to their field of study.”

Many of the programs build work experience into the core curriculum. Early Childhood Development students, for example, work alongside childcare experts. Hospitality students do their externships in global hotel chains.

The cost of living in Canada is high especially when compared to the US. However, students are able to work on and off campus. “A registered, full-time student with a study permit can work on-campus without a work permit. Students can apply for an off-campus work permit too,” says Coelho. To be eligible they must have a valid study permit, be registered in a full-time program, be in good academic standing, and have completed six months of full-time study.

Watch out!

There are several internationally prestigious scholarships and programs open to Indian students:

  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships for doctoral students
  • Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships
  • Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program, and
  • MITACS Globalink – Undergraduate Research Internship