Students who have never been to Canada often have an image of it as the land of snow and hockey. What they find when they come to the country is quite different. Polar bears stick to the northern regions and there are beautiful seasons other than winter in Canada. Hockey is our national game but there are a thousand other sports and activities to choose from—some on sunny beaches, some near vast lakes or oceans, and some in the midst of busy modern cities.
Canada is a land of rich diversity, encompassing urban sophistication and abundant nature and wildlife. It is safe yet also exciting; stable yet also filled with adventure. It features cutting-edge technology, inspiring cultural icons, and a vibrant society that is open to everyone. Canadians tend to be modern, welcoming, and open-minded.
Across Canada are examples of excellence, innovation, and beauty, all of which—along with top-notch educational institutions—make Canada one of the leading study abroad destinations in the world.
In this section, agents will learn what makes Canada attractive to students considering study abroad—beginning with quick facts about Canada, and progressing to a more detailed look at the country’s history, economy, government, people, culture, geography, and climate.
Here are some quick facts about Canada:
Canada Is a Wonderful Place to Live and Study: Since 2004, the United Nations has regularly ranked Canada in the top 10 countries in the world in its Quality of Life Index. Combining excellent educational institutions, an innovative economy, a tolerant and safe culture, and extraordinary beauty, Canada is an ideal destination for international students. In addition, praised for their overall stability, multiculturalism, clean environments, and world-class healthcare, and education systems, Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 2016 Economist Intelligence Unit ranking of the world’s most livable cities.
Canadian Education Is World Class: Canada is also ranked #1 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for higher education achievement—more than half of its citizens between the ages of 25 and 64 have a post-secondary education. The Times 2016–2017 World University Rankings placed seven Canadian universities in the top 200 (and four of these in the top 100). As well, Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities placed four Canadian institutions in its top 100, and 20 in the top 500.
Canada’s secondary school students excel in science, reading, and mathematics. In the 2015 PISA results testing Grade 10 students from 65 countries around the globe, Canada ranked 9th on the Reading Scale, 7th in Science, and 10th in Maths ahead of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and France. High-quality French and English language teaching are also reasons students choose Canada.
Canada Is Multicultural and Open to the World: Canada is officially bilingual (English and French), and across the country, more than 200 languages are spoken. The biggest cities, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, are home to many immigrant communities and one finds all sorts of ethnicities across the country. A tolerant culture is among the top Canadian values—informally, on the streets and public venues, and formally, in Canada’s laws and government. Of particular note is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that enshrines equality for all.
Canada Is Innovative: Canada’s educational institutions have long been incubators for innovation. The BlackBerry, flat-screen technology, SMART boards, voice compression applications for cell phones and computers, and IMAX film are among the many revolutionary technologies invented and developed by men and women who studied in Canada.
Canada Produces Leaders: Among these are the environmentalist David Suzuki; the famous architect Frank Gehry (Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, Walt Disney Concert Hall, etc.); the economist John Kenneth Galbraith (who served in the administrations of US presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson); the cinematographer James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar); the author Margaret Atwood; musicians Justin Bieber, Sarah McLachlan, and Celine Dion; and actors Rachel McAdams, Jim Carrey, Kiefer Sutherland, and Ryan Gosling.
Canada Is a Highly Competitive Economy: Canada has one of the world’s most stable economies. Canada also boasts one of the fastest economic growth rates among the G8 countries, and the International Monetary Fund predicts this trend to continue. The OECD has recently predicted that Canada will lead G-7 growth in the next 50 years. Moreover, Canada ranks:
- In the top 15 most competitive economies in the world (Source: Conference Board);
- 2nd of the G-7 countries in ability to attract long-term business investment due to sound economic infrastructure (Source: Global Infrastructure Investment Index);
- 1st among G8 countries for “soundest banking system” (Source: World Economic Forum);
- In the top 10 of best places to do business in the world (Source: Forbes).
Canada Is a Major Player in Collaborative Research and Development: Many of Canada’s educational institutions are engaged in international research partnerships to address major issues facing our world today. Canadian institutions recognize that Canadian research receives a crucial boost in terms of reputation and impact when quality international partners contribute. Many of the world’s most pressing problems are international in scope, and Universities Canada notes:
“Canada’s universities are known for conducting world-class research. Globally, we punch well above our weight in output: we rank sixth in terms of average citation levels across all fields among the top scientific countries and produce four per cent of the world’s scientific papers despite representing only one percent of the world’s population. Canada’s universities, are key economic drivers of regional and national prosperity, and a powerhouse of research and development activities, performing 40 per cent of the nation’s total R&D, valued at $13 billion each year. University researchers collaborate on more than $1 billion worth of research with community and non-profit community groups every year and conduct almost $1 billion worth of research in collaboration with the private sector annually, providing the “intellectual raw material” that drives innovation and builds prosperity.”
Examples of projects include the innovative NEPTUNE ocean floor laboratory; the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative; ArcticNet, a revolutionary approach for studying the effects of climate change; and Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network (CANARIE Inc.), which facilitates research and development around the world.