Canada is ranked #2 in the William Russell “5 Best Places to Live in the World in 2021”, based upon a high average ex-pat salary, quality of life, healthcare and education. It has 3 of the 20 Best Student Cities in the World: Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. Canada has become one of the most popular destinations to study abroad; known for its high-quality education and world renowned educational institutions. There are 96 Canadian public universities, offering more than 15,000 study programs.
Canada received 174,538 study permit applications from Indian students in 2019, with an approval rate of 63.7%. That dropped to 75,693 for 2020, due to travel restrictions, with an approval rate of 48.6%. But in the first four months of 2021, 90,607 applications had already come in, with an approval rate of 74.40%.
A significant percentage of international students remain to become permanent residents, obtaining Canadian work experience, in addition to the Canadian credential, to qualify for Express Entry. Canadian high-skilled work experience allows applicants to earn additional points under Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), and they can potentially qualify for a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Top 5 Canadian Colleges for Indian Students
Twenty-five of the top thirty schools chosen by Indian students were colleges in 2020, accounting for 66.6% of all study permits issued. These are the top five colleges, based upon the number of study permits.
1 Lambton College: Lambton College’s main campus is located in Sarnia, Ontario, near the shores of Lake Huron. Sarnia is a quiet, safe community, with some of the lowest tuition and living costs in Canada. Lambton offers popular diploma and post-graduate academic programs, with higher-level study opportunities at partner universities.
2 Conestoga College: Conestoga offers polytechnic education and is one of Ontario’s fastest-growing colleges, offering more than 200 career-focused programs in a variety of disciplines, and more than 15 degrees. Conestoga offers Ontario’s only college-based, accredited engineering degrees.
3 Northern College: Northern is a college of applied arts and technology in Northern Ontario, with campuses in Haileybury, Kirkland Lake, Moosonee and Timmins. Areas of study include business and office administration, community services, engineering technology and trades, health sciences and emergency services, veterinary sciences, and welding engineering technology.
4 St. Clair College: St. Clair offers over 100 courses across multiple levels, including degrees, diplomas, and graduate certificates. They focus on the areas of health, business and IT, media arts, social services as well as technology and trades. St. Clair was recently ranked in Canada’s top 50 research colleges by Research Infosource Inc. St. Clair’s graduates are highly employable, and they boast an impressive 87.5 percent employed within six months of graduation.
5 Canadore College: Canadore College is situated in North Bay, Ontario – equal distance from Toronto and Ottawa – with smaller campuses throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Canadore College offers an array of full-time and part-time, degree, diploma and certificate programs. Their new innovative health training facility, The Village, is the first of its kind in Canada. Canadore’s 75,000 sq. ft Aviation Technology campus houses the largest number of aircraft out of any Ontario College.
Top 5 Canadian Universities for Indian Students
1 Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU): KPU was the most popular university for Indian students in 2020. Kwantlen offers a range of degree, diploma, certificate, and citation programs with opportunities for hands-on experience and experiential learning. As Canada’s only polytechnic university, Kwantlen focuses on hands-on skills, in addition to traditional academics. KPU is one of the biggest undergraduate schools of business in Western Canada.
2 University Canada West (UCW): UCW is a business-oriented private university that offers MBA and Bachelor degrees that prepare students to be effective leaders in the workplace. UCW has Education Quality Assurance Accreditation (EQA) and Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). UCW emphasizes smaller classes to ensure each student gets the undivided attention that they deserve.
3 University of Windsor: UWindsor is a public research university in Windsor, Ontario. The school is known for its undergrad research, experiential learning programs and faculty members that thrive on collaboration. They have work-integrated learning partnerships in place with 250+ companies in Ontario, across Canada, and around the world. More than 93% of UWindsor grads are employed within two years of graduation.
4 Yorkville University: Yorkville University is a private for-profit university with campuses in Vancouver and Toronto. In Vancouver, Yorkville University offers a Bachelor of Business Administration (General), with specializations in Accounting, Energy Management, Project Management and Supply Chain Management. In Ontario, Yorkville University offers a Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in Project Management, a Bachelor of Interior Design (BID), and a Bachelor of Creative Arts.
5 York University (YU): YorkU is a public research, multi-campus, urban university located in Toronto, Canada. York University has over 120 undergraduate programs with 17 degree types, and offers over 170 degree options. York also houses Canada’s oldest film school, ranked one of the best in Canada. In the 2021 Academic Ranking of World Universities, YorkU ranked 301–400 in the world and 13–18 in Canada.
How to Apply to Canadian Universities
In your preparation for studying in Canada, it’s wise to research potential universities and then narrow your options to three or four. Take note of the admission times and language requirements, and the credit scores required for the degree or program you’re interested in. Prepare your application letters and personal profile(s). The university will ask you three questions, which must be answered with a short essay, and you will also have to prepare two short videos.
You will be asked to submit a certified copy of your diploma or certificate, the completed application form and possibly your updated CV (Curriculum Vitae). If a letter of intent is requested, you must state your intention to enrol for the education course specified, at the applicable college or university.
You will need to submit your recent language test results for English or French, as applicable: English (International English Language Testing System) with a score of 6 on the NCLC or French (Test d’evaluation de francais) with a score of 7 on the NCLC. You will also need to submit proof of funds, to demonstrate that you can support yourself during your studies.
If you are applying for a Masters of Ph.D. program, you will need to submit Letters of Employment and two letters of Academic Reference. If you have not studied in Canada, your foreign degree, diploma, or certificate must be verified by ECA (Educational Credential Assessment).
If you are not fluent enough in English to prepare the required documents, a certified translator must submit an English or French translation with the original documents you submit.
Most of Canada’s universities accept applicants between January and April. If you are planning to study in September, you must submit all application documents before August. Late applications could be refused immediately.
Student Direct Stream (SDS)
For Indian students, the Canadian study permit process generally takes at least five weeks to be processed. The SDS processing time in Canada is typically 20 calendar days. Indian residents who can demonstrate upfront that they have the financial means and linguistic ability to advance academically in Canada could be eligible for the shorter processing timeframe.
To apply you will require a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI), and provide proof that the tuition for the first year of study has been paid. Designated Learning Institutions are universities colleges, and other post-secondary educational institutions with government authorization to accept international students.
Submitting a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC), to show that you have an investment account with a balance of $10,000 CAD or more, is a prerequisite for applying for your study visa through the SDS program. The approved financial institution will hold the GIC in an investment account or student account and you won’t be able to access the funds until you arrive in Canada. An initial sum will be issued when you identify yourself upon arriving in Canada, and the remainder will be issued in monthly or bi-monthly instalments.
Depending on where you’re applying from, or your field of study, you may need to obtain a medical exam or police certificate and include these with your application. If your studies or work will be in the health field, primary or secondary education, or in child or elder care, you will most likely need to have a medical examination report, through a doctor listed in the Canadian Panel of Physicians. If you’re an International Experience Canada (IEC) candidate, a police certificate will likely be required when you submit your work permit application.
From the ‘Apply for a study permit through the Student Direct Stream’ page, select your country or territory and click ‘Continue’ to receive additional instructions and access the link to your regional ‘Visa office instructions’.
According to Statistics Canada, the average international undergraduate tuition cost in Canada is currently $33,623. Since 2016, about two-thirds of international students studying in Canada have been undergraduates.
Slightly more than 12% of international undergraduate students were enrolled full-time in engineering, paying $37,377 on average for tuition fees in 2021/2022. 0.4% on average of international students were enrolled in professional degree programs. The average tuition fees for international students in professional degree programs range from $38,110 for law to $66,503 for veterinary medicine.
Work Options After Graduation
Canada isn’t only interested in educating Indian students, but also has programs for hiring many of them after they graduate. Here are three of the post-graduate visa options available to international students, to help integrate them into Canada’s workforce.
The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) provides the option for students who have graduated from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs) to obtain an open work permit, to gain valuable Canadian work experience.
The Skills Immigration (SI) – International Post-Graduate category of the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) can help students gain permanent residence in British Columbia. A job offer is not required for application.
The Canadian Experience Class is a program for skilled workers who have gained paid Canadian work experience and want to become permanent residents.
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Student Direct Stream (SDS)
Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP)
Skills Immigration (SI) International Post-Graduate Category
Eligibility to apply for the Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry) 
Student Direct Stream: About the process
Student Direct Stream: Who can apply
Student Direct Stream: How to apply
Student Direct Stream: After you apply