Canada is a great country — more than two and a half times the size of India, but with only 30 per cent of our population. There are six primary time zones. Both English and French are the official languages.

There are over 90 universities, most of which maintain fine quality. The tuition fees are in general less than that in the U.S. There are several other educational institutions operating at different levels in diverse areas. Facilities exist for work experience through part-time jobs. No wonder, thousands of international students choose Canada as their destination. More than 150,000 students fly from abroad every year for studies. The atmosphere is multicultural, offering excellent opportunity for developing a truly global outlook. The quality of life is good.

Many universities offer the option to live on-campus in residences. You have to apply for on-campus housing. The student adviser would normally provide information on off-campus housing as well.

You would be allowed to work on campus as in a library without a formal work permit and earn money. Universities permit off-campus work up to 20 hours a week during the school year and full-time during study breaks. This helps you not only to earn income but to gain work experience of quality. For this facility, you should have a work permit. Such permits have validity during the tenure of your study permit. You have to get your Social Insurance Number (SIN) if you need to work in Canada or to have access to government programmes and benefits. You have to submit an application for the number, in the prescribed form downloadable from the website www.servicecanada.gc.ca, along with a nominal processing fee.

Canadian universities are largely publicly-funded; they enjoy a high degree of academic autonomy. The academic year is usually from September to May. There would be semester or trimester systems. Each university has its own norms for entry qualifications to different programmes of study. The attainments of each student would be assessed individually for the purpose of admission. The Canadian educational institutions are familiar with the qualifications in most other countries including India. Those who have passed the Class XII examination would get admission to the undergraduate programmes. Our bachelor’s degree and scores in GRE would normally enable you to enter a ‘graduate’ programme in Canada. Final decisions in the matter are taken by individual universities or other institutions. Normally, undergraduate applications will have to be submitted by January-March in the year of admission.

You will have to see whether a university offers programmes through English or French and make an appropriate choice. You may be asked to sit in a French language test by the university, if you choose the French medium.

The universities offer a wide range of courses and award undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees, professional degrees and certificates. The assessment of a student’s performance is not pivoted on a single annual examination. It is based on the results in assignments, classroom presentations, projects, periodical tests, and term papers.

AUCC (The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, 350 Albert Street, suite 600, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 1B1, Ph: 613-563-1236; Site: www.aucc.ca; e-mail: info@aucc.ca) ensures research-enriched quality in the university education system, interaction with industry, information sharing, facilitation of scholarships, and recognition of the qualifications at the global level. The provincial authorities also have measures for quality assurance. This dual system guarantees quality of your university education in Canada.

You can reach a directory of Canadian universities and colleges through the website www.cicic.ca. You can know whether a university stands authorised to grant degrees of diplomas by going through the listing in the directory. Detailed information on the programmes in any university or college can be drawn from the web site concerned or from the university or college calendar, which will be sent to you on request to the admission office. The calendars usually highlight not only the programmes, but the entrance qualifications, facilities for accommodation, tuition fees, scholarships, and matters of interest to prospective students.

Clarification of any point of doubt may be obtained from the following addresses as well.

Useful Addresses:

1. Canadian Education Center-India - Bangalore, No.105, First Floor, The Presidency, 1 St. Mark’s Road, Bangalore - 56 00 01; Phone: 080-4112 0183; e-mail: cecbangalore@studycanada.ca

2. Canadian Education Center-India - New Delhi; Phone: 011 4151 5560; e-mail: cecindia@studycanada.ca

3. Canadian High Commission, 7/8, Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi - 110021; Phone: 011 5178 2000; e-mail: delhi@international.gc.ca

It may be remembered that certain universities may have excellent facilities for certain disciplines. But they may not be equally good in other areas. So there is not much sense in being carried away by the rankings published by interested organisations. You will have to study each university taking into account factors such as the reputation built through years of proven work, infrastructure, quality of faculty, noted alumni and the positions reached by them. Particular emphasis should be laid on going into the details of the department you intend to join. The web sites of the universities or colleges would normally give you the basic information you need.

Canadian universities are largely publicly funded; they enjoy a high degree of academic autonomy. The academic year is usually from September to May.