Canada Colleges and Universities
It's an impressive number: Over half of all Canadians 15 and over, about 52 percent, have a postsecondary education in the form of a trade certificate, college diploma or university degree, according to 2010 data from the government agency Statistics Canada. This trend could continue as educational ministers in the provinces and territories plan to emphasize postsecondary education in upcoming years.
Goals identified in Learn Canada 2020, a framework created by those ministers, include increasing the number of students pursuing postsecondary education, improving the quality of that postsecondary education, and developing accessible and diverse training programs for adult learners. Many Canadian universities and schools are public, which could help in fulfillment of these goals.
In fact, more than 90 public and not-for-profit degree-level schools are part of the nationally focused Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, or AUCC. Since there is no federal ministry of education, or even a formal accreditation system in Canada, colleges can benefit in terms of public policy and advocacy, research and more by joining AUCC.
Universities and colleges in Canada offer educational bang for your buck
As most Canadians know, universities in the country are under the exclusive jurisdiction of individual provinces, which can keep education more affordable. The provincial government not only oversees the schools within its jurisdiction, but also provides public funds to them. While these funds can help to keep the quality of schools consistent, the academic focus of schools can be somewhat different: Some schools might emphasize liberal arts, while others lean toward research.
Education in Canada is considered very affordable both for domestic and international students, according to Helen Murphy, communications manager for AUCC. Canada residents can expect to spend between CAN $5,000 to $6,000 (U.S. $5,073 to $6,088) a year for tuition for an undergraduate education, she said. Students can find even less expensive options at schools like Memorial University of Newfoundland, where tuition has gone up since 1965--when it was free--but remains among the lowest in the country. The cost of a 2010-11 undergraduate education there is CAN $2,550 (U.S. $2,587) for domestic students and CAN $8,800 (U.S. $9,011) for international students.
Canadian schools are considered "very good bang for the buck" for international students in general, Murphy said. Average tuition for the 2010-11 school year for an international student at the undergraduate level was CAN $16,800 (U.S. $17,048). At the graduate level, the yearly tuition averaged CAN $12,400 (U.S. $12,583). Interestingly enough, graduate education is less expensive per year than an undergraduate education for international students, she said.
Canadian student life: Big city options or smaller college getaways
More than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available in Canada, according to the AUCC. Most of the country's public schools are located in the southern portions of the provinces, where populations are centered around larger cities. Ontario is home to the largest number of university students, with 365,775 students enrolled in the 2008-09 school year, according to Statistics Canada. Quebec is close behind with 172,425 students enrolled. The largest universities in Canada are located in the country's largest cities:
- Toronto: University of Toronto, York University, Ryerson University
- Montreal: Université de Montréal, Université du Québec à Montréal, McGill University
- Vancouver: University of British Columbia, Emily Carr University of Art + Design
While the cities above offer student life combined with city life, other college towns can give students more of a small-town feel. Cities like Sackville, New Brunswick (home of Mount Allison University); and Nelson, British Columbia (home of Selkirk College), offer an alternative to life in Canada's largest metropolitan centers.
Students who are located in sparsely populated areas where opportunities for postsecondary education are more restricted--like the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon--could still take advantage of a wide range of educational options available online. In fact, so could any would-be student seeking flexible scheduling and the option to attend class virtually, from home.
Growing job opportunities in Canada
Health care and high-tech jobs dominate the list of fastest-growing occupations in the North American economy. In Canada, jobs for physical therapists, accountants and payroll managers, oil and gas administrative assistants, and massage therapists are expected to see big gains in the coming years.
Physical therapists are also on the list of the 20 fastest-growing occupations in the U.S., along with their assistants and aides. Medical assistants also made both lists, along with pharmacy technicians. For those wishing to emigrate for work, jobs for veterinary technologists and technicians, personal financial advisers and athletic trainers had better growth figures in the U.S.
But Canada is still a good place to make a living. Sample wages for fast-growing entry level positions, reported for 2010 by Career Centre Canada and compared with 2010 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, include:
- Graphic designers: $52,000 in Canada (U.S. $53,194), $48,140 in the U.S. (CAN $47,058 dollars)
- Massage therapists: $61,000 in Canada (U.S. $62,401), $39,770 in the U.S. (CAN $38,876)
- Medical assistants: $42,000 in Canada (U.S. $42,964), $29,760 in the U.S. (CAN $29,091)
- Paralegals: $59,000 in Canada (U.S. $60,355), $49,640 in the U.S. (CAN $48,525)
- Pharmacy technicians: $33,000 in Canada (U.S. $33,758), $29,330 in the U.S. ( CAN $28,671)
- Physical therapists: $80,000 in Canada (U.S. $81,181), $77,990 in the U.S. (CAN $76,836)
Whatever school and career path you decide to follow in Canada, the time could be ripe for you: Education ministers behind Learn Canada 2020 want to increase learning opportunities for students and enhance the number of positive educational outcomes.