When students start considering an international education, some of the more obvious choices are usually the United States, United Kingdom, France, Australia and Germany (in that order, according to UNESCO Institute of Statistics). But, there is one choice that is becoming more and more popular in recent years: pursuing an education in a Canadian university.

If you really think about it, the main reasons and arguments why you decide on a university in a specific country can be summarized in the following five: money, safety, global perspective, education, and opportunities.

1. Money

While it’s true the cost of Canadian universities is significantly higher for international students, the average is still lower than some of the other popular destinations. As an example, Times Higher Education states international students are expected to pay an average of CAD 25,180 per year. Many programs are three years, so by the time they graduate, their debt amounts to CAD 75,540, which is about USD 57,300. As a point of comparison, the average cost of an American education per year is closer to USD 33,215, which amounts to about USD 132,860 for the typical four year program.

In both cases, of course, both the tuition cost and the cost of living will vary depending on the state or province. For Canada, the program of study may also influence the price, with arts and humanities being on the cheaper side and sciences and engineering on the more expensive side. And while money is always an important factor, there are different ways to finance your education through programs and scholarships, so don’t take let the numbers stop you without doing a little more research first.

2. Safety

College can be the first chance for many international students to live away from home, so safety is not only a concern for them, but also for the parents. In the case of Canada, it’s not much of a concern at all.

Safe around, a website that lets you assess the general “risk” of over a hundred different countries and cities, ranked Canada as the 8th safest city in the world. It is true that Canada has a very low crime rate of only 1.6 per 100,000. However, that doesn’t mean it’s completely nonexistent. It’s just more rare than in other countries, and localized to specific regions of the North. Generally, tourist areas are considered very safe to the point even pickpocketing is considered rare.

3. Global Perspective

With Canada being known as a pretty safe country with a very welcoming population, it is no surprise that it is also globally recognized as one of the happiest countries in the world. In fact, the World Happiness Report placed it in seventh place. This placement took into consideration life evaluations, social support, freedom, generosity and corruption. US News also ranked it highly as one of the best countries, on third place after Switzerland and Japan.

4. Education

But it’s not just about how it’s perceived. Academically, many Canadian universities are respected and highly ranked. Times Higher Education counts 27 Canadian universities among the best in the world for this year, 2019. Three are in the Top 50, which are University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and McGill University. Especially the first two are highly respected for their research and high-quality academic work.
As mentioned earlier, undergraduate degrees in Canada can last three or four years. For post-graduate, it can be between one and three years depending on the program of study as well. Other types of higher education include community colleges and institutes. Each province may manage its universities slightly differently, but in general there seems to be a focus for research and respect for students to show interest in a specific area and explore it more deeply.

5. Opportunities

So, globally Canada is recognized as an amazing country not only to visit, but to live and study in. This is also evident in the country’s efforts to attract international students to its universities. International students in Canada can work on campus without a work-permit while they’re still students, but they can also apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) after completing their education. This post-graduation work permit can be between eight months and three years long, depending on the program of study. The country even encourages international students to apply for permanent residency and gives them preferred status. These efforts are clearly paying off, as Forbes also claims that “between 2015 and 2017 alone, the number of international students in Canada increased by forty percent.”

This constant effort and attention towards the international student population not only creates a more welcoming space, but it also encourages a community that values respect, diversity, and attention to global issues. Times Higher Education describes this as also creating a cosmopolitan atmosphere on campus.

In fact, Canada already has one of the most diverse international student populations, with people from over 180 countries in the year 2017. Some top-countries include China, India, South Korea, France, and Vietnam, with most of them in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.

For international students and domestic students alike, these efforts will continue to offer many benefits for both their short term goals while in university and long-term goals as global citizens. Rather than closing itself off from different perspectives, Canada actively embraces them.

The Globe and Mail quoted a senior researcher at the Conference Board of Canada who said that international students “look to Canada because of our reputation of being a multicultural society, as well as being a country that is open and receptive to immigration.”

So instead of asking yourself “why Canada,” a better question would be, why not Canada?