One must simultaneously try for admission to a few universities in Canada, and the efforts to get an admission should start at least one year ahead of the time of admission.

Let us take a deeper look into certain practical aspects of studying in Canada.

Most of the universities have four-year undergraduate programmes. The duration however may be slightly different. This depends on whether the degree awarded is general or specialised.

An honours (baccalaureate) programme may be a bit harder as more courses may have to be completed in the same period of time, compared to a regular bachelor’s programme in the discipline. But an honours programme represents a higher level of academic achievement, and would therefore render your admission to a graduate programme easier.

You may try simultaneously for admission to a few universities in Canada, not just one of them. Your efforts should be at least one year ahead of the time of admission. You can contact directly the office of admission to the undergraduate programmes or the office of the graduate programmes, as the case may be. You will be advised specifically on the formalities for application, documentation and deadline. The acceptability of your educational qualification should be got confirmed by the admitting authority.

There are certain credentials evaluation service providers who would advise you on the acceptability of your qualification. The web site www.bcit.ca/ices is an example of such a service in British Columbia. The providers will take a payment; but their evaluation result is only of an advisory nature. The ultimate decision vests with the university concerned.

Almost all the formalities for application can be completed electronically. Normally, you will have to prove your proficiency in the English language through scores in TOEFL. Scores in IELTS may also be accepted. So also, scores in GRE may be essential for admission to some of the universities. The specific information on the minimum level of scores expected by the university should be got confirmed sufficiently in advance, so that you can prepare well and secure good scores, thereby making the admission process easy.

Citizenship and immigration

The web site (www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/index.asp) gives full information on study permit. To be eligible for study in Canada, a university or other educational institution in Canada must have accepted you. Further, you have to prove that you have sufficient money to pay for your travel, fees and living expenses in Canada. Sound health and absence of criminal records, as proved by medical and police certificates, may be required for immigration. You should convince the Canadian officials that you will leave Canada after completing your studies.

There are self-assessment tools in the web site www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/index.asp to check and confirm whether you are eligible to apply for a permit to study in Canada and get an off-campus work permit.

These tools can be used before finalising your decision to move to Canada. Any further information on credentials can be obtained by contacting the CICIC (Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials, 95 St. Clair Avenue West, Suite 1106, Toronto, Ontario M4V 1N6 Canada; Phone: 416 962-9725). The CICC is a unit of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.

Community colleges

Community colleges and technical institutes in Canada offer vocational programmes that enable you to get into a job. They meet the training needs of vocationally-oriented secondary school graduates aiming to enter business or industry.

The programmes may last from one to three years. The curricula in some of the community colleges may have general academic concentrations, similar to those in the first two years of the four-year programmes in the universities. So you would be able to move to a university after completing two years in a community college, and pursue the third and fourth years of study in the university. The list of community colleges is available on the web site www.cicic.ca.

These colleges emphasise practical work unlike universities. There are fine centres of excellence in specific fields of vocational studies such as information technology, hospitality, and creative arts. The curricula are sensitive to social needs, and they are updated to meet the practical field challenges efficiently. There would be little by way of academic exercise for its own sake.

There are also privately owned ‘Career Colleges’ that provide job-oriented training programmes in areas such as animation, film technology, secretarial skills, and hospitality. Schools that specialise in teaching English or French as a second language form another category of educational institutions. Enrolment in these schools for periods less than six months may be given even without a study permit.

Fees and scholarships

We mentioned that the rate of fees in Canadian universities is in general less than those in the U.S. In Canada, the fees in the private institutions would be more than those in the public institutions. Also, the fees depend on the subject of study and the level of the degree you are aiming at. The annual fees may vary from 8,000 to 19,000 Canadian dollars. (1 USD is approximately 1.1 CAD). The living expenses would be around CA$10,000 a year.

Scholarships which may cover the tuition fees or living expenses or both given by the universities or colleges or by the Canadian government often depend on your academic merit.

You should have a reliable backup for funds before you rush for education in Canada. The web sites www.cicic.ca and www.scholarshipscanada.com give valuable information on scholarships in Canada. We had given general information on the availability of scholarships for international students in a previous issue.

Guidanceplus archives: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/nic/0051

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