International students need to obtain a study permit in order to study as students in Canada and they can only study at designated learning institutions (DLIs) within Canada.
There are a few exceptions to the rule, for example if your study length will be six months or less and they aren’t part of a longer programme or if you are a member of a foreign armed force.
A Canadian study permit allows you to stay in Canada for the length of your course plus an extra 90 days upon completion to give you chance to apply to extend your stay.
In order to apply for a study permit as an international student you must have an acceptance letter from your chosen DLI and a valid passport or travel document. You also need to show proof that you are able to afford your living expenses, tuition fees and return transportation along with proof of health which may include a medical exam.
There is an application fee of $150 for a study permit, and prospective students from Europe, the Middle East or Africa must submit biometric data such as fingerprints when applying.
The student accommodation situation in Canada is very similar to the one in the United States, with on-campus dormitories or rooms being available from most universities and schools at a cheaper cost than off-campus student accommodation.
Depending on where in Canada you are studying there may be private student accommodation options for you to choose from, or even non-student housing that is near the campus if you are wanting to room share with coursemates or other students to split the cost.
Homestays are a popular option for foreign students, which place you with a Canadian family near to your campus which provides a room and food at a limited cost. Many universities will have accommodation services to help you find a place to live.
Before applying to an institution in Canada you need to ensure that it holds status as a designated learning institute in order to be accepted and to be granted a study permit to study there.
Most courses are conducted in English but there are areas within Canada which are predominantly French, so double check to ensure that the language the course is taught in is one you are proficient in – you may need to prove this as part of the application process.
There is no centralised application system in Canada so universities must be applied to directly. Each university has it’s own set of requirements for application but they usually include: graduation certificate from relevant institutions, CV, cover letter, proficiency of language, academic references (for higher level studies) and evidence of financial support.
Tuition fees in Canada are set by the individual university and depend largely on level of study, university location and area of study.
International students can be looking at average tuition fees of CA$25,180 p/year, although this could be less if studying humanties degrees and more if studying engineering or medicine based programmes.
Most Canadian universities offer their own scholarships to help students, including international ones, with the cost of tuition fees. There are also several government-run schemes which can help international students with the cost of tuition in Canada.