Canada is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world’s second largest country by total area. Canada’s common border with the United States to the south and northwest is the longest in the world. A federation consisting of ten provinces and three territories, Canada is governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. It is a bilingual nation with both English and French as official languages at the federal level. One of the world’s highly developed countries, Canada has a diversified economy that is reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade-particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship.
Canada has been consistently ranked by the UN as the number one country in the world to live in. It is a country of diverse peoples, lifestyles and landscapes, offering a multiplicity of top quality education programs for international students. Canadian educational institutions welcome international students, with many providing special services designed to assist their integration into the academic community and help them throughout their stay.
Canada does not have a national education system. Public education is under the jurisdiction of each of the ten provinces and two territories, therefore there are both differences and similarities in the systems across the country.
In Canada, post-secondary institutions are divided into two major types: universities and community colleges. The university provides academic and professional training, and research leading to degrees (BA, BSc, MA, MSc, PhD, etc.). The community college offers certificate and diploma programs in career and vocational training. College-level institutions may also be known as colleges of applied arts and technology or technology institutes. Academic transfers from community colleges to universities are sometimes possible. In Quebec, colleges d’enseignement general et professionnel (cegeps) offer two types of program: vocational programs are 3 years, and pre-university programs are 2 years.
There are also several university colleges, which straddle the line between universities and colleges. These offer selected undergraduate (bachelor’s) and college programs, but not graduate (master’s and doctoral) programs. There is no formal ranking of institutions in Canada, as they are remarkably uniform in quality across the country. The academic year generally runs from September to April, with spring and summer courses available in most cases.
Some institutions operate on a semester or trimester system, which allows them to accept students to begin studies in September, January or May. University undergraduate programs normally last three to five years, while community colleges offer programs ranging from one to three years.
English and French are Canada’s two official languages, and at most universities and colleges, instruction is in one of these, although a few use both. Students applying for admission must satisfy the institution’s language proficiency requirements in the language of instruction. You should inquire at the time of application if a language proficiency test is required, and ask about the procedures for taking the test.
Canada is a leader in second-language training, with many educational institutions offering beginners and upgrading programs in English and/or French as a Second Language. Sometimes the language courses are offered before you begin your regular academic program, or alternatively, they could be taken at the same time.
Full-time students registered in a degree or diploma-granting course are allowed to work on the campus of the institution at which they are registered without the need for an employment authorization. This includes on-campus employment for graduate, teaching or research assistants. Spouses of full-time students are eligible for open or open/restricted employment authorizations, depending on medical requirements having been met
There are two major steps to take if you wish to go to Canada to study at secondary or post-secondary (tertiary or advanced) level. First, you must be accepted for a program of study by a recognized Canadian secondary school or post-secondary institution. Second, you must apply for and be granted a student authorization (and visa if required) from Canadian immigration authorities. These procedures take considerable time, and you should apply six to twelve months before you wish to begin your studies in Canada.
Student Authorization Procedure
Submit the completed application kit to the immigration section of the Canadian High commission. Please note that all the documents submitted, must be either original or photocopies notarized and witnessed by a notary public or a magistrate or the Canadian Immigration Officer, and be accompanied by a duplicate copy.
Every applicant must demonstrate that they have sufficient financial resources available to them to pay tuition fees, maintain him/herself and dependants who go to Canada, and to pay return transportation costs without engaging in employment in Canada. For example, students without accompanying dependants must demonstrate that they have at least $10,000 Can plus the cost of tuition for a twelve-month period, plus the cost of transportation to and fro from Canada. Canadian $10,000 is the base amount considered adequate to cover all costs, other than tuition, for one person for a twelve-month period. Some educational institutions require that more funds be available; if the local cost of living is higher than average, more money may also be required.
An interview with a Canadian Visa Officer may sometimes be required. If this is the case, you will be advised in writing of the time and place for the interview.
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