Nov 8, 2013 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Canada has been declared the country with the best reputation in the world for the third consecutive year. In addition to taking home the overall title, Canada claimed the number one spot in categories ranging from “best place to live” to “best place to study,” while also ranking high for working, visiting and investing. Looking for a legit reason to sew that maple leaf patch on your backpack? Here are  5 top reasons to enroll in one of Canada’s premiere educational institutions as an international student. Read more about programs in Canada here.

1) You can get a scholarship to go study in Canada.

The rewards of studying in Canada are big while the cost is small, particularly compared to its neighbor to the south. Additionally, there are a significant number of scholarship opportunities for international students. These include:

Government and University Scholarships:

Special Scholarships:

  • Brazil’s Science Without Borders Scholarship Program: This innovative program from the Brazilian government started in 2011 and aims to send over 100,000 Brazilians to study abroad in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by 2015. The government funds 75,000 scholarships while an additional 26,000 are privately funded. Many Brazilians choose to pursue international studies in Canada because of its high quality, accessible cost and bilingual offerings.

These are just a few of the financial aid offerings available in Canada. For those just getting started, the Canadian government lives up to its friendly reputation by providing a searchable database of international scholarships. Just enter your country of origin and the database yields a list of opportunities and info on the funding sponsors.

2) You will experience living in one of the most attractive countries in the world.

More than 200,000 top international students and researchers choose to study in Canada each year. It's not just about the hockey. Here are our top eight reasons -- give or take a few -- why more than Canadian geese flock to Canada.

1. Wordly Renowed Universities

Canada tops the list of educational spending per capita of all the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Canadian universities are internationally regarded for their high academic standards and emphasis on research in post-secondary education. In 2012, four Canadian universities claimed Top 100 spots in the ARWU Shanghai Rankings (University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, McGill University, McMaster University) while five more ranked in the Top of the QS University Ranking (Université de Montréal, HEC MontréalUniversity of AlbertaQueen's University, University of Waterloo). Besides, the Canadian government and private sector support research in a number of cutting edge fields, including telecommunications, medicine, agriculture, computer technology, and environmental science.

2. Big Country, Low Costs

Despite the high education standards, the cost of is comparatively affordable, particularly compared to the U.S. and U.K.

3. Commitment to Culture

A vibrant cultural life is a Canadian imperative; in fact, a government policy specifically mandates diversity. Nearly all of the globe’s ethnic groups are represented, and bring with them everything from new perspectives to culinary delights to exciting recreational activities. Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto -- the country’s largest cities -- are celebrated as safe, accessible and culturally rich world-class cities with beaches, museums, restaurants, shopping and more.

4. One of the best places to live

High academic rankings and a reputation for friendliness is great, but it's hard to beat eight consistent years of top rankings by the United Nation as one of the world’s best places to live. Canadians are protected by a diversity of freedoms, and international students are too. The result is an exceptionally stable and peaceful society with a low crime rate.

5. High Employment Rate

Job prospects are strong for Canada’s international grads. The country’s universities boast links to more than 5,000 global collaboration agreements. Combined with Canada’s focus on industry-specific applied research, it’s no surprise that more than 90% of Canadian alums are employed less than six months after graduation.

6. Tech Rules

Canada is at the international forefront of computer and information technology, particularly in telecommunications, medical devices, aerospace engineering, lasers, biotechnology, ocean and environmental, and several others. Through its innovative SchoolNet program, Canada was the world’s first country to connect its schools and libraries to the internet.

7. Natural Splendor

Canada also excels in terms of its stunning natural settings with 42 national landmarks and multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The landscape offers a stunning diversity -- from breathtaking coastline to wide open prairies and the scenic Rocky Mountains.

8. Sticking Around

International students who worked and studied in Canada don’t have to leave in order to apply for permanent residency. The Citizenship and Immigration Canada website offers info regarding how international students can transition to post-school life in Canada.

3) You will find a new home, no matter where you are from.

Canada became the first country to officially declare multiculturalism as a policy through the establishment of the 1971 Multiculturalism Policy of Canada, which affirms the rights of all citizens regardless of race, ethnic origin, language or religion. This ideology results in a harmonious environment rich in cross-country respect, as well as constantly rising rates of naturalization.

Canada’s diversity is an extraordinary asset in today’s global marketplace, not only because of unparalleled cultural understanding, but also because of the multilingual nature of its citizens. It’s no surprise then that Canada has a reputation as a premiere language training destination. More than one billion Canadians speak English while 250 million speak French. International students improve personal and business fluency through access to unparalleled "English as a Second Language" and "French as a Second Language" programs.

4) Your education is the government's priority.

Canada’s International Education Strategy recently announced its goal to double the number of full-time international students to 450,000 by 2022.The Canadian Council of Ministers of Education prioritizes attracting international students in all education sectors through a number of strategies. The plan is not only focused on recruiting, but also on retaining after graduation by offering more opportunities for Canadian students to work abroad while studying and remain in the country as permanent residents afterward.

5) Getting your student visa has been made easier.

Because of Canada’s rising status as a premiere destination for international students, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has evaluated its student visa (AKA study permit) system to provide greater overall accountability. In January of 2014, a number of changes will take place, including the following:

  • All visa holders must be enrolled and actively pursuing a course of study at a designated educational institution upon arrival in order to maintain legal status.
  • Institutional eligibility will be designated by the government, and only international students admitted to these schools will be granted visas and work permits.
  • Work permits will only be granted to full-time students actively in pursuit of a degree, diploma or certificate with a maximum workweek of 20 hours.
  • Eligible institutions will report to the government and the CIC on international enrollment and statistics, and will be required to comply with a set of common standards.

Canada: Keep Exploring:

 

BONUS MATERIAL:

6 secret tips for Studying Abroad in Canada

Canada welcomes and encourages international students, but the process can still be overwhelming at times. These handy tips can ease the transition to life among the maple leaves.

1- Before departing your home country, contact the institution where you will be studying to clarify necessary documentation -- it varies according to length of stay and region. Give yourself sufficient pre-departure time to get everything in order: three months prior is ideal. It is also recommended that you register with your country's consulate or embassy before arrival. Contact the schools and universities directly here.

2- To avoid culture shock, study up on Canadian culture before leaving home, join student groups, participate in events and be open to new experiences. Take advantage of professional support services at your academic institution, as well as informal resources like other international students.

3- Most international students in Canada live in dormitories located on or near campus. These may offer cafeteria meal plans. Your housing office can provide more information about on campus accommodations, as well as private offerings.

4- International students with study permits can work on campus or at affiliated campus sites; others require a work permit which qualifies them to work for up to 20 hours a week. Eligibility for work permits is strict, and excludes part-time students, visiting and exchange students, certain scholarship recipients, and ESL and FSL students, among others. If you hope to work in Canada, the canadian government's website details the eligibility factors for student work permits.

5- Health insurance is mandatory in Canada, and should be arranged prior to arrival. Your academic institution likely includes health insurance coverage in tuition fees, but check to be sure.

6- Canada has four distinct seasons, and can get pretty chilly during the winter months. Planning for extreme cold is the key to enduring a Canadian winter: pay attention to weather forecasts and note that good winter clothing is not optional. Like the Canadians say : "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing."

Canada may be exceptionally cold in winter, but its people are warm and its academic opportunities are red-hot. By familiarizing yourself with what to expect and preparing in advance, you can ensure a cool transition to Canadian life.

 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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