Canada is the world’s second largest country, occupying most of northern North America. It stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, with the Arctic Ocean lying to the north. Canada shares its border with the United States to the south and to the northwest. Due to its massive size, Canada has the longest coastline in the world – 202,080 kilometres, with most of it making up the Canadian Arctic covered by ice. Canada is made up of a lot of lakes, with vast areas of fresh water glaciers in the Canadian Rockies and Coast Mountains.
Canada as of recent years is a popular choice with overseas students due to its varied climatic conditions, diverse cultures, friendly people and welcoming atmosphere, making Canada a destination that suits everyone.
Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories. Each of these provinces and territories are grouped into different regions – Atlantic Canada, Central Canada, Northern Canada and Western Canada. The provinces have more autonomy than the territories, being the ones responsible in running the social programs and official governing decisions of the country. The provinces and territories run as a democracy parliament, with a constitutional monarchy who acts as the head of state – Queen Elizabeth II.
The region of Central Canada is made up of the large and popular provinces of Ontario and Quebec. These two provinces make up 62% of Canada’s present population, with most of the urbanized and industrialized cities being Toronto and Montreal, and Ottawa as the capital. Atlantic Canada region is made up of three Maritime Provinces – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island - and Newfoundland and Labrador, located on the east coast of Canada. Western Canada makes up 31% of Canada’s population and is often referred to as the ‘Mountain Province’. The region is made up of four Provinces – Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The region is then further divided into the Prairies – Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan – and Pacific Province – British Columbia. Northern Canada comprises of the three territories – Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon. This region is sparsely populated with vast natural resources.
Various Aboriginal communities inhabited Canada until the arrival of the British and French. It is a diverse multicultural society with the main population consisting of migrants and their first-generation children. The migrants have come from ethnic communities from over a 100 countries. This vast multicultural environment has led to Canada’s growth as a prosperous, successful and highly developed country.
Canadian culture is mostly influenced by the American culture and from the immigration of people from all over the world, allowing the people to value Canada’s multiculturalism. Although Canada has a strong multicultural background, it is a bilingual nation with English and French being considered as the official languages on a federal level.
Education System in Canada
Canada has a large selection of educational facilities available - around 90 universities and 80 colleges - located both in the rural and urban regions of each province. The universities and colleges are internationally known and recognised for their high standard of teaching and research. Canadian Universities have been granted the authority to provide degrees by the consent of the Ministry of Education, specific to each province. Degrees obtained at any Canadian University are equivalent to any degree from other Commonwealth institutions around the world.
Most of the province/territory governments provide the funding for post-secondary institutions, but the federal government provides the remainder of the funds, tuition fees from students and from research grants. Depending on the different provinces, with respect to universities, the assessment of funds received differs. Quebec Universities receive the most funding and lowest tuitions, while the Universities in Atlantic Canada receive the least funding and are dependant entirely on private funding.
Each individual province and territory in Canada is responsible for its own post-secondary education. As a result of this there are differences in the educational systems in the various provinces, at the same time maintaining uniformity and high standards. Universities and Colleges across Canada are quality establishments, where by each institute sets their own curriculum and requirements. Fees for universities and colleges differ according to the provinces, the institution and the program of study being pursued.
Secondary education in Canada is compulsory till Grade 12, depending on the province in which secondary education is being pursued. After the completion of secondary education (usually Year 12), students can enrol in tertiary education. Tertiary education includes: -
- College – refers to community or technical college, applied arts or applied science schools. These institutes grant certificates, diplomas and associate degree on course completion. The duration of these courses could be from a year to three years, and some institutes offer the option to do them online.
- University – is an institute of higher education and research, granting undergraduate degrees in a variety of subjects. Most degrees take up to four to five years depending on the field of study being pursued
- Graduate School - is an institute that provides a Master’s or a PhD, after the completion of a certified undergraduate degree. These degrees can be attained in a year or two depending on the course or research being pursued.
Universities in Quebec follow a slightly different pattern than the other provinces. Secondary education in the Quebec province ends after Year 11. Students then enter the Cégep studies. The Cégep is a College of General and Vocational Education, a two-or-three year general program between secondary school and university. Students can then enrol into university or a professional program once this is completed. Universities in other provinces take in students once they have completed Year 12 of their secondary education.
Canadian Universities usually run from early September to late April, with seasonal breaks and holidays depending on the institution and province. This is then followed by a four month summer vacation from early May to late August. Universities run on a semester bases, with two semesters in each academic year. Two semesters are also offered in the summer if students want to take extra courses during the summer vacations.
Universities and Colleges in Canada do not require any entrance tests, as each institution sets their own admission standards and each applicant’s qualification is accessed individually. International students who have completed their pre-secondary education in the General Certificate of English (GCE) A-Levels and O-Levels, International Baccalaureate, CBSE and SAT1/SAT2 and have obtained grades of 70% and above are guaranteed to hear back from the university. In addition to the transcripts, essay statements stating the student’s intent and interest of study, letters of reference, extracurricular involvement and additional community/sports participation will need to be sent to the university during the application process. If English is not your first language, students need to demonstrate their competence in English by passing an English Examination test. Canadian institutes accept the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOFEL) along with the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
In order to apply to study at a Canadian University, evidence of English knowledge/level and Evidence of previous study is an explicit requirement. The institutions and state set other requirements. Canadian Universities and Colleges are flexible in terms of program requirements and intake dates.